Posts Tagged ‘military’

TO THOSE WHO SERVE

May 27, 2011

MEMORIAL DAY 2011

TO ALL THE MEMBERS LIVING AND DEAD WHO HAVE SERVED TO PROTECT THIS GREAT FREEDOM-LOVING COUNTRY:  THANK YOU.

Victory is a state of mind.

I Remember

I’ve always been embarrassed that I didn’t go “in-country” in Vietnam, Cambodia, Laos, or anywhere else that Johnson – and later Nixon – sent people to die when I served in the United States Navy 1966-72. Go figure.

As it was, I got to call myself a Vietnam Veteran, and not a Vietnam Era Veteran, because my unit directly supported troops in active combat. We did it at a distance, but we learned too much about the killing fields anyhow.

Joining the Navy was a careful decision. At the time I got my draft notice – order to appear for physical examination, I was older than the norm – largely teenage boys 17 to 19. I was 21 and college educated. I had a brand-new degree while most of my mates sufficed with high school diplomas, maybe a GED, or nothing. Because of the draft there were a lot of guys like me snatched up because they didn’t have enough college credits to avoid the call; or no wife and children; or a rich daddy like George Herbert Walker Bush to buy us into the Texas Air National Guard; or a “critical” behind-the-lines position exempted for a “vital” job; or, were not clever, credible, or courageous enough to claim conscientious objector status.

After my service, I celebrated the 7-year end of the Statute of Limitations on Felony Draft Avoidance with a friend who refused induction and worked for the World Without War Council as a draft counselor for high school students. He told the whole truth, including the right to appeal, obtaining conscientious objector status, and what to do if running was their choice, so the Military enlistment personnel hated seeing him walk into the high school auditorium on Career Counseling Day.

Another friend ran to Canada and was eventually pardoned by Jimmy Carter. The FBI used to send agents to hide in the bushes to watch his mother’s house on Thanksgiving and Christmas, just in case the homesick sentimental draft dodger came home for the holidays. I guess they had to cover all the bases in their thorough-thorough way, but the mind boggles at the expenditure of tax dollars – particularly when multiplied by all the other refusals and dodgers at the time, multiplied by all the really important serious crime that might have been investigated instead.

The ratio of will to won’t go was 6-4 in Bay Area San Francisco then. With 40% refusal, the feds only prosecuted celebrity dodgers like Joan Baez’ husband David, whom they sent to some Country Club prison in southern California. Not a bad gig, but he was Baez’ husband and thus too high profile to treat roughly? We didn’t do “Extraordinary Rendition” then; we got beat to crap the “regular” way – behind the scenes, without witnesses by professional peace officers who knew they were breaking the law and every imaginable moral imprimatur, and didn’t give a shit.

One friend received a deferment so that he could create experimental concrete products for the Navy. One creation was an equipment pad able to withstand several “thousand” fathoms pressure on the bottom of the ocean. My friend designed the perfect pad, but the Navy had no equipment advanced enough to place upon it. If they ever do, they’ve got a pad down there, waiting.

Another friend received a deferment to assist a marine biologist in placing transistorized heat sensors inside seal vaginas in order to study changes of body temperature as the animal slid from land into water, and vice versa. His job was to sneak up on sleeping  female seals from behind and…  It beat a foxhole.

Another friend went conscientious objector and was assigned to hospital cleanup for two years. He emptied bedpans and did any other job considered too lowly for higher hospital staff. The feds called it “Alternative Service,” but they looked down on it, like punishment, prison, or just like lifers in the military looked down on draftees.

Draftees bleed like everyone else, but they were only doing so (the lifers reasoned?) because they were forced to do so, and not (I reasoned) because they were boneheaded enough to make a voluntary career choice of it. With all the respect I truly have for the volunteer regular military, I never figured out how anybody could feel superior because of that.  That is the dichotomy in supporting the troops – they are killing people, yet they are heroes for doing so and we owe them our deepest support and respect. However, I voluntarily enlisted to avoid the “draftee” stigma. Being in the service was tough enough.

I also enlisted to choose my service. I chose the Navy. Army folks were up to their asses in the mud and blood; I think the survival expectation for a grunt touching down in a hot landing zone was eleven minutes. Their helicopter pilots – their only open officer program at the time – were being shot down one a week. It was a shockingly quick waste of a four-year college degree.

The Marines was a no-brainer, don’t go there. A high school chum who went off to war with them two years previously had come home whacked out. He wanted to get an M-16 and “go on up to Colored Town and clean out all the niggers. We’re gonna have to do it sooner or later. Better up there than down here.” (It’s always best to go someplace else to kill people than it is to do it in one’s own home. Think of the carpets). His eyes clearly showed how scared and hurt he was. He made me sad.

The Air Force was a prime option. They appeared to do most of their fighting two miles above the ground and then went home to the officer’s club on a nice protected base hundreds of miles from any danger, but it wasn’t recruiting at the time. Everybody wanted to be in the Air Force. Even G.W. Bush had to get Dad to pull big-time strings just to get into the lowly Texas Air Guard (and then the ratty little twerp went AWOL! – What a disgusting man, good at avoiding and starting war; “Georgie Porgie ran away”. I don’t think any president should have sole power to declare war – under any circumstances – especially one who has never fought one).

Next best? The Navy rode around in great big ships some two miles off shore and occasionally threw boxcar sized shells at the North Vietnamese, or steamed around making a show of military might and presence and fathering mixed foreign bastard babies. Navy chow was also rumored to be great, even better than Air Force grub. I didn’t know enough about sea duty to worry about it, yet. And I’d never heard of Mekong Delta Patrol. Of such stuff are great personal decisions made. What was it Rummy (Donald Rumsfeld) said? “There are the known-knowns that we know, and the known-unknowns that we know we don’t know; and then there are the unknown-unknowns that we don’t know at all.” And those are the little beauties that get you every time.

[Click images for added info, comment].

End of the Tunnel

A SIDELONG VIEW OF THE VIET NAM WAR

I was stationed on Guam, during the war,

A territory of the U. S. of A.,

From which the B-52s took off,

With their burden of bombs,

For old Hanoi and Uncle Ho,

Crewed by men in cowboy and other funny hats,

With box lunches,

For they’d be home for supper,

And a drink at the air-conditioned bar,

After the fall of the bombs on Nam,

And the lunch-box debris drop,

On the Russian trawler,

Bobbing at the three-mile limit,

Listening to our radio on the island shore.

I saw the B-52 Commuter War,

From beginning to end,

Up for the 7:30 a.m. launch,

Home for the 5 o’clock p.m. whistle,

And, in between,

The men in the cowboy and other funny hats

Never heard the sound,

As they rode high,

Twenty minutes from lunch,

And, two miles above the killing ground.

LET’S CELEBRATE LIBERTY:

We are brave Amerricuns,

With big fat guts,

Suckin’ beer and wavin’ flags,

And kickin’ faggot butts!

We hate useless sentiments,

Or to be reminded of our fears,

We just like tons of cornchips

And good cold cans of beer.

We like fundamental religion,

Satellite rock-roll t.v.,

Women with tight zippers,

And the death penalty.

We like Ronald Reagan,

Nooclear devices by the score,

Death to Arab nationalists,

And oh, so much more!

So light the dollar-sized button,

Illuminate the statue bold and brass,

Bring on those tall ships sailin’,

Kill all who give us sass.

For we are brave Amerricuns,

Standin’ on freedom’ shore,

Got here in our rowboats,

Drove the red bastards from our door.

Yes, we are brave Amerricuns,

You can tell we’re that, you commy,

Because we got us guns and god,

Pickup trucks, baseball caps and Ronny!

Fill 'er Up!

One Nation Indivisible.
Graduation Parade
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ODD SHOTS and IDLE PENSEES #5

May 18, 2011
Gene Kelley danced past Joe's in "Singing in the Rain."
Gene Kelley danced past Joe’s in “Singing in the Rain.”

OLD BLACK MAGIC:

“Separateness is a useful illusion.”  – The Big Kahuna.

Separateness is a youthful illusion.  Jl.

“God, the original Tony Soprano.” – church sign, Simpsons.

The ancient Sumerians had no concept of guilt or sin.  Later, the Renaissance considered a life unencumbered by revealed religionReligionists study “The Book” in preference to studying themselves; they put enormous energy into it, which if applied to the exploration of self, might produce a more fulfilling result.

Monotheism is the flip side of intolerance.” – TV Travel Channel on sacred sites, explaining Amarna, Egypt.

Note: In the typical Christian, Moslem, Jewish life, Life is a pain.  One must suffer and hopefully endure until the bitter pill of death is administered.  Within that pain is the typically human drive to pursue happiness.  Happiness is fleeting, of course, but its pursuit keeps us busy, which alleviates the pain, and the fear we have of death.  Pursuing happiness is an attempt to overcome and/or keep the pain at bay as long as humanly possible; but it is just a pastime after all, not a destination.

“[When I die] all these moments will be lost in time, like tears in the rain.” – Rutger Hauer, Bladerunner.

INAPPROPRIATE BEHAVIORS:

“What is it like to feel a stranger?” – – PBS question.  Senator Craig?

I wrote: “Ryan’s wagon was parked by the curb with its tailgate down.”  Spell check gave me: “The curb with its tailgate down parked Ryan’s wagon.”  Typed: “Ryan’s tailgate was parked with its wagon down at the curb.”  Speel check not trubled.  Glow figger.

Monte Markham as the voice of Plutarch.” – credit, Cleopatra, A&E Classroom. Get central casting!  He doesn’t even sound like Plutarch.

She boasted she could shoot and manage a horse as well as a man.  (Duck, guys!).

“There’s never been ANYTHING like it.” – Shaq, for Icy Hot.

We have different views of art.  He draws a stick.  I struggle for “stickness.”  8/97

Creative people routinely demonstrate how to get from here to there.  10/97

Q: “Just when are you coming down to earth, young man?”  A: “When it’s all over, I hope.” – Fred Astaire, The Sky’s the Limit.

“No doesn’t mean no.  It means you gotta cut a corner, work harder, and beat the system.”  – Baloo, Disney’s Tailspin, 1/94.  Walt Disney, always a powerful force for strong evangelistic coporatist morality.

“We want to talk about reducing nuclear weapons, particularly the kind that kill people.” – Casper Weinberger, Nixon’s Secretary of Defense, CBS News.

Mr. Begin has offered to let each member of the PLO to leave Lebanon carrying an arm.”  Dianne Sawyer, 6/30/82.  But leave the other arm and both legs behind.

“On a farm with no watch dog, the fox rules the roost.” – Ancient Sumerian proverb.

“NEVAH GO THIRSTY AGAIN!”

“Don’t drink alone, Scarlet.  People always find out, and it ruins the reputation.” – Rhett Butler (Clark Gable), Gone With the Wind.

DAMN LIBERAL CONSERVATIVES:

Against “tax and spend bleeding heart liberal socialist democrats,” place “rob, rape, and ruin selfish warmongering radical conservative republicans.”

Said of the Congress:  “They have to find a way to institutionalize the existing situation, so they don’t have to fix it.”

“It’s the lie you tell yourself that matters.” – Inspector Morse, ’95.

“No sensible man would allow himself to be sent to war to defend a politician.” – Minister, The Dreyfus Affair.

Q:  Why do we serve the systemA:  Because it’s comforting in its routines and, like any abused child, we’d rather keep the horror we’ve got than deal with fear of the unknown and the uncertainty of change.

Our national debate has become timid.  The Neville Brothers sing, “You can tell the truth, as long as you don’t tell too much.” So what can one do about it?  Here’s a starter list:

  • Stick up for your rights – your own integrity matters more than loyalty to a negative cause.
  • Stimulate sympathy – there are social and political reasons for what we do. The social reasons create the greatest measure of self-identification and response.
  • Speak only from factlisten, especially when you don’t agree.
  • Use a variety of sources of information; try to understand the other view.
  • Act. Do something positive everyday.

Thomas Jefferson wrote, “I know of no safe depository of the ultimate powers of society but the people themselves.”

LAST COMMENT:

Pain is an itch we can’t scratch.  All life is pain in the Buddhistic sense.  Its temporal fleeting nature is a constant bitter sweetness, forever a tear on the edge of beauty, a sigh on the cusp of grief.  We only get it for a moment, and sitting in silence, alone, we can feel its presence somewhere, always within, always informing, if we will it so.

Peace and Love,  brothers and sisters.  Keep on keepin’ on, and don’t forget to salute the Man in the Moon!

JUST KEEPS GETTING BETTER:

Published on Tuesday, July 28, 2009 by The Guardian/UK

Human Activity Is Driving Earth’s ‘Sixth Great Extinction Event’.  Population growth, pollution, and invasive species are having a disastrous effect on species in the southern hemisphere, a major review by conservationists warns, by Ian Sample.  Earth is experiencing its “sixth great extinction event” with disease and human activity taking a devastating toll on vulnerable species, according to a major review by conservationists.

http://www.commondreams.org/headline/2009/07/28-11

Stonewall

WAR and PEACE reprise

August 6, 2010

Older Letters to elected Officials and speculations on and about the subjects of war and recession, with links to today’s realities.  Not much has changed, except for some of the faces of the players.  Some issues are career opportunities for foot-dragging, do-nothing profiteers and cowardly politicians.  It is plain that the People must lead. 

ARAB-ISRAELI LOVE-FEST:

Ltr to Ron Wyden, Senator, OR. – January 8, 2009

The ancient Arab-Israeli confrontation is not worthy of support on either side.  Only some radical change of policy will break this savage inhumane cycle.  The Senate‘s recent unequivocal support of Israel is disgraceful.  Why do we support violence from anybody toward anybody?  Why not give peace a chance?  It has never been done, and we seem instead incapable of overcoming our religious, ethnic, and other generational prejudices.  We support people who coach their children to kill their enemies’ children.  This is madness.  It is insupportable.  The morass of the middle east does not reveal a champion for the United States to support, and Israel cannot claim the Holocaust as refuge or excuse for a holocaust of its own making that it refuses to stop.  Hamas‘ despicable actions are not an excuse for Israelis to murder, and the dead children they describe as collateral damage are not an acceptable cost for their security.

Murder and violence are what they are, not the stuff of virtue, right, or decent national policy – Israel’s, Palestine‘s, or the United States’. I urge you to re-think this issue outside of its historic insanity – and the personal blindness of culture and peer pressure.  Help devise an alternative approach to international murder and mayhem.  Help, too, to take the United States off its century-long war status.

Yours in sorrow and regret.   j

EXIT STRATEGY:

I am a veteran and senior citizen.

Ltr to Representative Earl Blumenauer, OR –  July 26, 2005   10:32 AM 

Subject: Please support House Joint Resolution 55, toward ending the Iraq occupation.

The war in Iraq has been a personal project for George Bush using American lives and treasure.  I believe he is ruining the world’s finest military.  For what?  He fights like the boneheaded English general Kitchener at Gallipoli, who observing the troops running uphill against Turkish guns said, “Stout fellows these Englishmen, they always run for the thickest part of the fence.”

Added to which, Bush’s war toys don’t work?  They do if they’re just designed to fill the pockets of his war-profiteering cronies; that’s what they accomplish.

I was glad to see that Rep. Jones is leading a bipartisan effort to press President Bush to create an exit strategy and timetable for withdrawal of our troops from Iraq.  Being an occupying force with no end in sight only fuels insurgency there.

I ask you to join the thirty other members of Congress already cosponsoring the resolution, and to support it by voting for it.  Thank you for your consideration.

IRAQ DEBATE:

Personal historical view – February 14, 2007; 3-1-08 rev.

Colin Powell said, “Don’t get into war unless it’s absolutely necessary, and when we do, go to win, no half measures,” but it doesn’t apply very much in real life.

As a Vietnam veteran, I know Johnson‘s phony Gulf of Tonkin Incident fished us into war (I was drafted).  He bought into the radical right’s communist containment scare.  The Committee of Concerned Asian Scholars wrote:

“In part, the process of deception has also been unintentional.  Much of the rhetoric and many of the actions that have accompanied our… involvement have been ad hoc responses to situations of stress: a cumulative series of reflex moves and lunges produced by deepening executive anxiety, defensiveness, alarm, desperation, and even a sensed state of siege.  Similarly in rhetoric, our ‘national honor,’ ‘[enemies] with nuclear weapons,’ and the goal of ‘peace with honor’ – all have misled the public.  At the root of executive deception is a vast amount of executive self-deception – or, .to put it bluntly, stupidity.”

America blithely ignores offers of friendship and makes enemies as fast as we can throw the first sucker punch.  This is not military sense; it’s a bad case of ideology and invention over reason and fact.  But, Americans don’t run out when the fight’s tough – see: Khe San.  We stood nearly twenty years (dating from Eisenhower putting the first American boots on the ground in the Fifties when the French got tossed out) while our military-industrial complex ruined Vietnam.  Our prolonged stay, and side invasions of Cambodia and Laos, generationally disrupted and destabilized Southeast Asia, distorted America’s rule of law, and led directly to the Bush leadership miasma.

We are now fighting a war for the health and life of the republic. Look at how the radical right Republicans and Tea Party and War Democrats have warped the nation they want us to fight for, die for, and honor. The self-destructive insanity of the radical right way of war makes it looks as if the bad guys have already won.

These are politically motivated wars, fought to extremes because of ill-informed egos and profit.  Bush’s indefensible “give war a chance” was disgusting; so is Obama’s current pursuit of it.  End the war now, no matter how wimpy it looks to arrested-adolescent bullyboys.

We’ve got a lot of positive work to do, and one dollar spent on peace really is worth ten wasted in war!

COST OF DOING WAR WITH YOU: – 3/21/08

Ltr to Rep Blumenauer; Recession and the War

The recession will force states to cut back their budgets.  Most likely, the cuts are going to affect the services that working families need to survive.

The Iraq war costs Americans more than $338 million a day.  We borrow $343 million every day to finance it.  Gas prices are close to double what they were before the war.  Oil hovers around $100 barrel [sic].

That money could help people who are hurting.  For less than we spend on the war, we could pay for affordable housing, healthcare, or education scholarships for hundreds of thousands.

Our skyrocketing debt is a growing drag on the economy, slowing recovery and robbing generations of a secure future.  Iraq sucks up the resources we need to make our economy work again.  MoveOn writes, “The tradeoffs are stark: bombs or unemployment insurance, billions for Halliburton and Blackwater, or help for people on the verge of losing their homes because of the sub prime meltdown?”

Economic forecasts will be grim as long as we continue to dump billions into a reckless war that has no end in sight.  The excessive and increasing degradation of our domestic economy is an attack on the nation.  Thank you for continuing to oppose this excessive, costly and ultimately criminal war.

LAST WORDS:

A secret reformation helped to create the United States of America; it eradicated many of the weeds of prejudice; a spirit of freedom and moderation was diffused.  The liberty of conscience was declared a common benefit, an inalienable right; the free government introduced the practice of toleration; and the narrow allowance of the laws was enlarged by the prudence and humanity of the times.  In the exercise, the mind understood the limits of its powers, and the words and shadows that might amuse the child can no longer satisfy adult reason. – Paraphrase – Gibbon, p1937.

Maybe human civilization has progressed; it depends upon what you’re measuring.  Human progress and perfectibility are two man-made ideals without much moral evidence to support them.

“One crowded hour of glorious life is worth an age without a name.” – Travis at the Alamo quoting Thomas Osbert Mordaunt, Verses Written During  the War, 1756-63.

“Sin sangre, y sin lagrimas, hay no es gloria.” – Santa Ana (“without blood, and without tears, there is no glory”).

“The urgent consideration of the public safety may undoubtedly authorize the violation of every positive law.  How far that or any other consideration may operate to dissolve the natural obligations of humanity and justice is terrible to contemplate.” – Gibbon, p830.

Politician 1:  “Why do politicians treat everyone else like idiots?”  Politician 2:  “Probably, because they voted for us in the first place.”  — Poirot, “The Incredible Theft,” BBC, David Suchet.

INTERESTING LINKS:
An American Hell: Don’t Turn the Page on History.  Facing the American world We Created, by Tom Engelhardt, www.TomDispatch.com. http://www.commondreams.org/view/2009/07/24

San Francisco Dems Tell Pelosi to Support McGovern ‘Afghan Exit’ Bill, by Tom Gallager, www.commondreams.orghttp://www.commondreams.org/view/2009/07/24-3

Can America Prevail on Afghanistan/Pakistan Front? No! It’s Obama’s war now, and a Vietnam-like quagmire is dead ahead.  by Helen Thomas, www.Minneapolis/St.PaulStarTribune  http://www.commondreams.org/view/2009/07/23-13

Blackwater Seeks Gag Order, by Jeremy Scahill.  www.thenation  http://www.commondreams.org/view/2009/07/23-2

Biden: Afghan War is ‘Worth the Effort’.  www.bbcnews  http://www.commondreams.org/headline/2009/07/23-0

RADICAL and NOT RIGHT:
http://www.commondreams.org/headline/2009/07/23-2  Christian Right Aims to Change History Lessons in Texas Schools.  State’s education board to consider adding Christianity’s role in American history to curriculum [and dump all reference to labor unions among other exclusions; the larger issue is that Texas textbook decisions affect every state in the union; textbook monopoly ONLY consults Texas education board!], by Chris McGreal in Washington, The Guardian/UK
End of the World!

RICH THIEVES

October 11, 2009
GOLD!

GOLD!

8 Shocking Ways the Billionaires Have Schemed to Rob Us of Every Last $ By Mark Ames, eXiled Online. American billionaires keep cooking up scheme after scheme to shake down Americans and plunder the national wealth, as if the last one was too easy and boring.

Every day and every week we hear another shocking story about how our billionaires have cooked up an even sicker scheme to shake down Americans and plunder the national wealth, as if the last scheme was too easy and boring. They don’t even bother hiding it anymore: take the story about the “Death Bonds” I wrote about last month, first reported (however blandly) in the New York Times: the very same Wall Street bankers who conned $23 trillion out of America’s wealth is now going to use some of that play money to place bets on when we Americans will die—and the sooner we die, the more billions in E-Z profits Wall Street will earn.

It’s as if America is some kind of despised abstraction to our ruling class: a faraway colony to plunder, a mass of humanity to use and exploit as it sees fit. In fact, there’s a pretty clear pattern developing of just how much they despise Americans and how little they value our lives and our humanity.

http://www.alternet.org/workplace/143146/8_shocking_ways_the_billionaires_have_schemed_to_rob_us_of_every_last_%24

Eight Years Is Long Enough: What You Can Do to End the War in Afghanistan By Peter Rothberg, The Nation. Antiwar activists are reallocating their attention from Iraq towards Afghanistan, organizing protests and demonstrations for the coming weeks.

Editor’s Note: Pressure to end the occupation is coming directly from members of the Afghan govt. as well — writing for the Women’s Media Center, CODEPINK Founder Jodie Evans has returned from Afghanistan with a petition signed by Afghan leaders, including two female members of Afghanistan’s parliament and President Hamid Karzai’s sister-in-law. Check out Evans’ article and add your name to the petition here.

Within a matter of months a majority of Americans have shifted from supporting to opposing the Afghanistan war as we approach the eighth anniversary of the start of the conflict. According to recent polls, a solid 57 percent of Americans now object to the military effort.

http://www.alternet.org/world/143132/eight_years_is_long_enough%3A_what_you_can_do_to_end_the_war_in_afghanistan

Who Ran Away with Your 401K? By James Ridgeway, MotherJones.com. What starts with “f,” ends with “k,” and means “screw your workers”? That’s right — 401(k).

Like most people whose quality of life depends upon the fluctuations of an IRA, 401(k), 403(b), or other acronym-soup retirement account, I was born long before such things existed. It’s easy to forget, now that more than half of us have been made shareholders, that until well past the middle of the 20th century, most people had nothing to do with the stock market: Wall Street was for the wealthy and the reckless. It was a world most Americans didn’t understand and, after 1929, didn’t trust. Some lucky people had pensions, but few had the privilege of even thinking about retirement. They were too busy trying to survive the present — which in my childhood meant the Great Depression and then World War II.

http://www.alternet.org/workplace/143145/who_ran_away_with_your_401k

Nezcalacca

HONEY, I’M HOME!

September 11, 2009

Iraq debate – personal historical view

Date: Wednesday, February 14, 2007 8:25 PM

Colin Powell said, “Don’t get into war unless it’s absolutely necessary, and when we do, go to win, no half measures,” but it doesn’t apply very much in real life.

As a Vietnam era veteran, I know Johnson’s phony Gulf of Tonkin Incident fished us into war (I was drafted).  He bought into the radical right’s communist containment scare.  The Committee of Concerned Asian Scholars wrote:

      “In part, the process of deception has also been unintentional.  Much of the rhetoric and many of the actions that have accompanied our… involvement have been ad hoc responses to situations of stress: a cumulative series of reflex moves and lunges produced by deepening executive anxiety, defensiveness, alarm, desperation, and even a sensed state of siege.  Similarly in rhetoric, our ‘national honor,’ ‘[enemies] with nuclear weapons,’ and the goal of ‘peace with honor’ – all have misled the public.  At the root of executive deception is a vast amount of executive self-deception – or, .to put it bluntly, stupidity.”

America blithely ignores offers of friendship and makes enemies as fast as we can throw the first sucker punch.  This is not military sense; it’s a bad case of ideology and invention over reason and fact.  But, Americans don’t run out when the fight’s tough – see: Khe San.  We stood nearly twenty years while our military-industrial complex ruined Vietnam.  Our prolonged stay, and side invasions of Cambodia and Laos, generationally disrupted and destabilized Southeast Asia, distorted America’s rule of law, and led directly to the Bush neoconservative leadership miasma.

We are now fighting a war for the health and life of the republic.  Look at how the radical right Republicans have warped the nation they want us to fight for, die for, and honor.  The self-destructive insanity of the radical right Republican way of war makes it looks as if the bad guys have already won.

These are politically motivated wars, fought to extremes because of ill-informed egos and profit.  Bush’s indefensible “give war a chance” was disgusting; so is Obama’s current pursuit of it.  End the war now, no matter how wimpy it looks to arrested-adolescent bullyboys.  We’ve got a lot of positive work to do, and one dollar spent on peace really is worth ten wasted in war!

NEWS LINKS: 

How 9/11 Should Be Remembered.  The Extraordinary Achievements of Ordinary People by Rebecca Solnit.  Eight years ago, 2,600 people lost their lives in Manhattan, and then several million people lost their story. The al-Qaeda attack on the Twin Towers did not defeat New Yorkers. It destroyed the buildings, contaminated the region, killed thousands, and disrupted the global economy, but it most assuredly did not conquer the citizenry. They were only defeated when their resilience was stolen from them by clichés, by the invisibility of what they accomplished that extraordinary morning, and by the very word “terrorism,” which suggests that they, or we, were all terrified. The distortion, even obliteration, of what actually happened was a necessary precursor to launching the obscene response that culminated in a war on Iraq, a war we lost (even if some of us don’t know that yet), and the loss of civil liberties and democratic principles that went with it. Only We Can Terrorize Ourselves

Afghanistan and the Wages of Empire by John NicholsIt is amusing, if remarkable, that there are still some players in Washington who try to maintain the fantasy that Afghan President Hamid Karzai governs with anything akin to legitimacy. Karzai, an alleged oil-industry fixer awarded control of his country by occupying powers, has always served with strings attached.

http://www.commondreams.org/view/2009/09/11-8

Posted September 11, 2009.

Obama’s Quagmire Looks a Lot like Vietnam by Robert Scheer, Truthdig.

The way he’s headed on Afghanistan, Barack Obama is threatened with a quagmire that could bog down his presidency.  True, he doesn’t seem a bit like Lyndon Johnson, but the way he’s headed on Afghanistan, Barack Obama is threatened with a quagmire that could bog down his presidency. LBJ also had a progressive agenda in mind, beginning with his war on poverty, but it was soon overwhelmed by the cost and divisiveness engendered by a meaningless, and seemingly endless, war in Vietnam.

http://www.alternet.org/world/142565/obama%27s_quagmire_looks_a_lot_like_vietnam/

Victory is a state of mind.

Victory is a state of mind.

ONE NIGHT

July 30, 2009

Old Glory

Here is a tale from “Sidelong Glances:

One night while I was a Third Class Petty Officer in the Naval Security Group, stationed on Guam at Anderson Air Base, doing courier duty during the Vietnamese War, we briefed the usual officer – a lieutenant jg (junior grade, USN) to carry the manifest for the security messages in their canvas bag; and chose a First Class Petty Officer (USN) who was 8 hours out of the Mekong Delta to carry the .45-caliber Army Colt automatic to guard the materials.  It all went bing-bang-boom.  Routine stuff.

It was the mid-watch: midnight to 8 a.m., my least favorite.  I was on duty with Lieutenant J.G. Hardman, a Rear Admiral’s son in a concrete cinderblock building with a great big, massive steel vault to hold the security material, when suddenly, there came a banging on our door.

I looked through the peephole to see a Lieutenant Colonel of the U.S. Air Force and six APs (Air Force Police) armed with M-16’s.  The Lt. Colonel looked pissed and the APs looked grim.  I told Hardman what was out there.

“For God’s sake, open up!” he said.

I did so.  The Lt. Colonel glanced at me and said to Hardman,

“I’m the Duty Officer tonight.  I have nine aircraft to get in and out.  You people have a man on an aircraft with a .45.  He’s threatening to kill anyone who comes close to the plane.  If you people don’t take him out, I will.”

Hardman gulped and said,

“Legry, handle that.”

I gulped.  My mind was going a mile a minute.  We had just been issued .38 “Police Special” Smith & Wesson revolvers – the enlisted got long barrels, because we were supposed to hit something, and the officers got Jack Webb Dragnet stubbies because – I figure – they were just supposed to look cool.  But stubbies now had an advantage over the long barrel.

“Mr. Hardman, can I borrow your .38 stubby?” I asked.

“Of course,” he said, “Sure.”  He practically shoved the piece at me.  I had the hit he wanted me to go do the job as fast as possible so the Lt. Colonel wouldn’t yell at him anymore – echoes of Admiral Daddy?

I stuffed the stubby into the right pocket of my work jacket, my finger an instant away from the trigger, and (I hope to tell you) the cylinder fully loaded, and went down to the flight line.

I was the center of interest as the Lt. Colonel, APs, and Hardman watched with bemused excitement (maybe somebody would get shot!), but I wasn’t interested.  I was focused on not getting shot.

You have to make an effort to see this scene.

It’s dead black on a warm tropical Pacific night – the heart of the graveyard watch, maybe three in the morning.  The only illumination is electric spots on the airfield.  Inside a circle of light is the aircraft with the First Class poised in front of the cargo hatch, alert as a spooked cat, the .45 held in ready position.  Outside the circle of light are the baggage carts (there are a lot of fellows going home on this flight, lots of baggage), half-circled like a wagon train awaiting Indian attack, and behind all of those vehicles are crouching, cringing Guamanian baggage handlers, praying to god that they are not tall enough to be the outstanding target for the first round.

What to do?  I sauntered – yes, literally sauntered – out into the circle of light to reveal myself.  Inside, I’m ready to hit the deck.

“Do you remember me?” I asked the First Class.  “I’m one of the guys who just briefed you.”

“Yeah,” he says, and I can tell he’s relieved.  I think, he thinks, the Guamanians are VietnameseAsians, yellow-brown men are all suspect.  This guy just came out of the hottest zone in the Delta nine hours ago; he’s still in combat.  These baggage guys could be Cong.

“Can I come over and talk?” I ask like a friend.  All this time, and all throughout, I’ve got my finger on the trigger of that stubby .38 in my right coat pocket.  It’s pointed straight at his heart.  I’m thinking if I get close enough, I will put this guy’s lights out, if he makes a fraction of a hostile move.

“Please!” he says, and I can tell he’s truly scared.  My sympathy for him charges.  I walk straight toward him –slow and measured – I don’t want to spook him.  I get close.  I say,

“Hey, I don’t know what the hell is going on, but I guess they forgot to tell you something when they briefed you.”

“Oh?” he asks.

“Yeah,” I say.  “I’m supposed to come down here and relieve you and you’re supposed to go back to the shack and do whatever.”

“Oh?” he says.

“Yeah,” I say.  “I’ll take the piece and stand the guard until you get back.”  He looks incredibly relieved.  He surrenders the piece gratefully and I resist a heartfelt sigh.  That damned big-barrel .45 has been in the middle of my chest since I started this walk.

He walks away to get whatever he “missed” at the briefing.  I watch the APs close around him like bears around raw meat.

I signal to the baggage handlers.  Come do your thing and they come, relieved, happy.

It nags me.  I think, the poor SOB.  He just got out of hell, he’s trying to do his duty, he’s scared out of his mind, and now his countrymen are arresting him.

I feel sorry for him to this day.  I hope he got in and out of the bear’s mouth fast and clean, but I will never know.  I hope he got home okay.  I did give my own back to Hardman later, but that’s another story.

So, many years later, waiting in Coos Bay for a snowbound bus to arrive from Bend, Oregon, I struck up conversation with a young veteran who was working in a Veteran’s Hospital.  He was an Iraq War vet – a mortar man with two tours behind him and a discharge for medical reasons.  His nerves were shot.  He was helping other vets struggling to recover some semblance of normalcy after shocking physical injuries.  He told me that he did not go to therapy.  He’d gone through a tough time and he had nightmares and that was just the way of it, wasn’t it?  So, I told him about that night on the airfield so many years ago.  Told him about my own trauma.  Told him about the genuine relief it was to share those things with others who had endured similar or worse – definitely worse, for those people knew things that made my own experience dim in comparison.  I told him about wondering if that young sailor had ever made it home from the Mekong.  It touched this young Iraq War vet in ways I could not feel.  I saw it in his eyes, and later, when I stood in line waiting to board my bus, I saw him looking at me, and our eyes met, and he smiled, and I saw the same relief that had been in that First Class Petty Officer’s eyes so many years before when I took the .45 from his hands, and sent him to his fate.

I guess that’s what inspires me to recall this today: my own responsibility, my own need to lay down the spear and come home.

It really is time to end the war.  All war.  Jl: 7-09

ONE LINK:

Sen. Russ Feingold: White House Is Whistling Past Afghan Graveyard By Jeremy Scahill, The Nation. Posted July 30, 2009.  In 2001, Sen. Russ Feingold, D-Wis., famously and courageously stood up as the lone senator to vote against the Patriot Act.  On July 21, 2009, he did it again, casting the lone vote opposing Sen. Joe Lieberman’s, I-Conn., amendment to the 2010 Defense Authorization bill that immediately authorizes an expansion of the military by 30,000 troops. In an exclusive interview with The Nation, Feingold says he “did not believe it was in the best interest of our troops or our national security.” The measure passed 93-1.

http://www.alternet.org/world/141606/sen._russ_feingold%3A_white_house_is_whistling_past_afghan_graveyard_/

Never Again!