Posts Tagged ‘vietnam’

OTHER MEN DIE

August 22, 2016
Victory is a state of mind.

Victory is a state of mind.

OTHER MEN DIE

And the old vet was up in his studio bedroom in Mom’s attic

Painting magic eyeballs on his fingertips

To go with the mystic spirals on the backs of his hands

And he told us about seagulls in the early dawn

Of feeding them barehanded

Palms stretched to the skies

Lying upon his back on the wet sand

Observing the feathered feeding frenzy

Of the messy, greedy birds

That pecked his fingers and palms and wrists

Opening red puncture wounds

And he loved it

Because it brought him

So close to life.

And I saw that vet by another name

Sitting cross-legged in swim briefs

In wind-tossed dune reed grass

In cold wind whistling off a Winter Pacific

And I asked

“Why do you sit in the freezing cold, Shane?”

And he replied

“Because, at least I know I’m alive.”

And so it goes

jl/PDX/1-13

A Decent World

WAGING WAR FROM A BURNING HOUSE

No More Troops to Afghanistan, Syria, Libya, Iraq, so forth, so on

Dear President Obama,

Stop sending troops to Afghanistan, Syria, Libya, Iraq, so forth, so on.

I am a Vietnam Era veteran.  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 present Reagan-Bush corporatist neo-conservative miasma.

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.  We are fighting a war for the life of the republic, as a result.

These are politically motivated corporatist wars, fought to extremes because of ill-informed egos and profit.  These bloody-handed murderers-by-proxy began their plunder of the American nation by taking the Peace Dividend away from us after the Berlin Wall fell.  They shifted to terrorism as the object of their monolithic war machine, and plunged the whole world into wrack and ruin.  Bush’s indefensible “give war a chance” was disgusting; so is Obama’s continued pursuit of it.

End the war now, no matter how wimpy it looks to arrested-adolescent bullyboys, or corporatist oil barons and banksters.  We’ve got a lot of positive work to do, and one dollar spent on peace really is worth ten wasted in war!

laststroke

AND WHAT ABOUT THESE MERCENARY BANDITS YOU HIRED?

Quit outsourcing government jobs to private contractors.  The People can get the job done better for less cost and for the community’s and not just a few individuals’ profit.

The performance of mission critical security functions by profit-driven contractors is counterproductive and often immoral and criminal.

It’s bad for the morale of our real American troops to see these overpaid and pampered bought-and-sold mercenaries.  I know because I have nephews and nieces who have served in our military in Afghanistan and Iraq.  Talk to real American troops to hear it.

Office of Federal Procurement Policy’s list of inherently governmental functions that these mercenaries must not perform should include: guard services, convoy security services, pass and identification services, plant protection services, the operation of prison or detention facilities, and any security operations that might reasonably require the use of deadly force; and, from support of intelligence activities (including covert operations), interrogation, military and police training, and repair and maintenance of weapon systems.

Machiavelli famously wrote that mercenaries might be trusted for only two things: to demand more money; and to run out when the chips are down.  Don’t buy champagne for mercenaries, use our money wisely to equip and protect our real American troops.

Finally, have you given any thought as to what is to happen if these mercenaries decide they’ve got a better business proposition from our archenemies?  Or, face unemployment?  In Europe unemployed mercenaries set off the Hundred Years’ War, which might properly be called the “Rape, Murder and Plunder Crusade.”  The “Holy Crusades” were invented by the Pope as a safety vent to send these murder mavens packing out of town to do their dirty deeds. We prefer killing “heathens” to our own to this very day. But that can change.

STOP - SAVE

Don’t forget to click on the images for MORE information, or a larger image. Keep on keepin’ on, and don’t forget to salute the Man in the Moon. We’re in this together. All the best! j

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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

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!

LIFTING THE VEIL

March 28, 2010

 

The Unbearable Lightness of Reform by Bill Moyers and Michael Winship March 27, 2010 by CommonDreams.org

That wickedly satirical Ambrose Bierce described politics as “the conduct of public affairs for private advantage.”

Bierce vanished to Mexico nearly a hundred years ago — to the relief of the American political class of his day, one assumes — but in an eerie way he was forecasting America’s political culture today. It seems like most efforts to reform a system that’s gone awry — to clean house and make a fresh start — end up benefiting the very people who wrecked it in the first place.

Which is why Bierce, in his classic little book, The Devil’s Dictionary, defined reform as “a thing that mostly satisfies reformers opposed to reformation.”

Give the victors their due: the bill Obama signed expands coverage to many more people, stops some very ugly and immoral practices by the health insurance industry that should have been stopped long ago, and offers a framework for more change down the road, if there’s any heart or will left to fight for it.

But reformation? Hardly. For all their screaming and gnashing of teeth, the insurance companies still make out like bandits. Millions of new customers, under penalty of law, will be required to buy the companies’ policies, feeding the insatiable greed of their CEO’s and filling the campaign coffers of the politicians they wine and dine. Profits are secure; they don’t have to worry about competition from a public alternative to their cartel, and they can continue to scam us without fear of antitrust action.  READ MORE: http://www.commondreams.org/view/2010/03/27-0

Earth ‘Entering New Age of Geological Time’ by Murray Wardrop March 27, 2010 by The Telegraph/UK

The Earth has entered a new age of geological time – the epoch of new man, scientists claim.

Humans have wrought such vast and unprecedented changes on the planet that we may be ushering in a new period of geological history.  It is feared that the damage mankind has inflicted will lead to the sixth mass extinction in Earth’s history with thousands of plants and animals being wiped out.

The new epoch, called the Anthropocene – meaning new man – would be the first period of geological time shaped by the action of a single species.  Although the term has been in informal use among scientists for more than a decade, it is now under consideration as an official term.

A new working group of experts has now been established to gather all the evidence which would support recognising it as the successor to the current Holocene epoch. It will consider changes human activities have brought to Earth’s biodiversity and rock structure as well as the impact of factors including pollution and mineral extraction.

It is hoped that within three years, their case will be presented to the International Union of Geological Sciences, which would decide whether the transition to a new epoch has been made. READ MORE: http://www.commondreams.org/headline/2010/03/27

Celebrating (Mourning) a Culture of Lies by Robert Freeman March 28, 2010 by CommonDreams.org

Tomorrow, March 29th, marks the thirty-seventh anniversary of America’s withdrawal from Vietnam. You won’t hear it celebrated in any mainstream media, though it should be. Or more precisely, it should be mourned. Vietnam is the first war America ever lost.

It should be remembered so that we might learn the lessons of that loss. They are many, they are profound, and they could inform so many of our policy decisions today: that withdrawal from immoral wars doesn’t mean the end of civilization as we know it; that even America’s seemingly limitless resources are, in fact, limited; that masses of engaged, moral individuals can constrain the reckless, destructive folly of renegade elites.

Perhaps the most important lesson of Vietnam is that policies based on lies will ultimately fail, for in an open society it is the consent of the governed that is required to sustain major policy initiatives. A government can either earn that consent, or it must forfeit the essence of its democracy. If lying becomes its essential modus operandi, a nation ceases to be a democracy. Rather, it becomes a criminal conspiracy of self-interested insiders donning the trappings of democracy in order to gull the credulous.

It is time to grow out of our materialistic fetishes and begin cultivating the personal and civic maturity we like to fancy we possess, but which we don’t. It is time to grow up and accept the burdens of mature citizenship, among the most important of which are a capacity and a willingness to tell the truth, letting go the comforting but corrosive lies in the confidence that courage mustered now will yield not only greater self respect today but a more sane, a more decent, and a safer society in the future.

It is important that we commemorate Vietnam, both to mourn the objective horror of what it was, but also to redeem our capacity to tell the truth, to ourselves, about ourselves. Only in that way can we begin to reclaim the country and the people we want to imagine ourselves to be.

Robert Freeman writes on economics, history and education. His earlier piece, “Is Iraq Another Vietnam?” was also published on CommonDreams.  He can reached at robertfreeman10@yahoo.com. READ MORE: http://www.commondreams.org/view/2010/03/28-3

Related:  https://johnlegry.wordpress.com/politics-mostly/organized-irresponsibility/

The Rage Is Not About Health Care by Frank Rich March 28, 2010 by The New York Times

THERE were times when last Sunday’s great G.O.P. health care implosion threatened to bring the thrill back to reality television.  On ABC’s “This Week,” a frothing and filibustering Karl Rove all but lost it in a debate with the Obama strategist David Plouffe. A few hours later, the perennially copper-faced Republican leader John Boehner revved up his “Hell no, you can’t!” incantation in the House chamber – instant fodder for a new viral video remixing his rap with will.i.am’s “Yes, we can!” classic from the campaign. Boehner, having previously likened the health care bill to Armageddon, was now so apoplectic you had to wonder if he had just discovered one of its more obscure revenue-generating provisions, a tax on indoor tanning salons.

But the laughs evaporated soon enough. There’s nothing entertaining about watching goons hurl venomous slurs at congressmen like the civil rights hero John Lewis and the openly gay Barney Frank. And as the week dragged on, and reports of death threats and vandalism stretched from Arizona to Kansas to upstate New York, the F.B.I. and the local police had to get into the act to protect members of Congress and their families.

How curious that a mob fond of likening President Obama to Hitler knows so little about history that it doesn’t recognize its own small-scale mimicry of Kristallnacht. The weapon of choice for vigilante violence at Congressional offices has been a brick hurled through a window. So far.

After the Civil Rights Act of 1964 was passed, some responsible leaders in both parties spoke out to try to put a lid on the resistance and violence. The arch-segregationist Russell of Georgia, concerned about what might happen in his own backyard, declared flatly that the law is “now on the books.” Yet no Republican or conservative leader of stature has taken on Palin, Perry, Boehner or any of the others who have been stoking these fires for a good 17 months now. Last week McCain even endorsed Palin’s “reload” rhetoric.

Are these politicians so frightened of offending anyone in the Tea Party-Glenn Beck base that they would rather fall silent than call out its extremist elements and their enablers? Seemingly so, and if G.O.P. leaders of all stripes, from Romney to Mitch McConnell to Olympia Snowe to Lindsey Graham, are afraid of these forces, that’s the strongest possible indicator that the rest of us have reason to fear them too. Copyright 2010 The New York Times Company.  Frank Rich is a regular columnist for The New York Times.  He is the author of many books, including The Great Story Ever Sold: The Decline and Fall of Truth from 9/11 to Katrina.  READ MORE: http://www.commondreams.org/view/2010/03/28

INTRODUCING WORLD WAR III

Have a Nice World War, Folks by John Pilger March 28, 2010 by CommonDreams.org

Here is news of the Third World War. The United States has invaded Africa. US troops have entered Somalia, extending their war front from Afghanistan and Pakistan to Yemen and now the Horn of Africa. In preparation for an attack on Iran, American missiles have been placed in four Persian Gulf states, and “bunker-buster” bombs are said to be arriving at the US base on the British island of Diego Garcia in the Indian Ocean.

In Gaza, the sick and abandoned population, mostly children, is being entombed behind underground American-supplied walls in order to reinforce a criminal siege. In Latin America, the Obama administration has secured seven bases in Colombia, from which to wage a war of attrition against the popular democracies in Venezuela, Bolivia, Ecuador and Paraguay. Meanwhile, the secretary of “defence” Robert Gates complains that “the general [European] public and the political class” are so opposed to war they are an “impediment” to peace. Remember this is the month of the March Hare.

According to an American general, the invasion and occupation of Afghanistan is not so much a real war as a “war of perception”. Thus, the recent “liberation of the city of Marja” from the Taliban’s “command and control structure” was pure Hollywood. Marja is not a city; there was no Taliban command and control. The heroic liberators killed the usual civilians, poorest of the poor. Otherwise, it was fake. A war of perception is meant to provide fake news for the folks back home, to make a failed colonial adventure seem worthwhile and patriotic, as if The Hurt Locker were real and parades of flag-wrapped coffins through the Wiltshire town of Wooten Basset were not a cynical propaganda exercise.

Norman Mailer once said he believed the United States, in its endless pursuit of war and domination, had entered a “pre-fascist era”. Mailer seemed tentative, as if trying to warn about something even he could not quite define. “Fascism” is not right, for it invokes lazy historical precedents, conjuring yet again the iconography of German and Italian repression. On the other hand, American authoritarianism, as the cultural critic Henry Giroux pointed out recently, is “more nuance, less theatrical, more cunning, less concerned with repressive modes of control than with manipulative modes of consent.”

This is Americanism, the only predatory ideology to deny that it is an ideology. The rise of tentacular corporations that are dictatorships in their own right and of a military that is now a state with the state, set behind the façade of the best democracy 35,000 Washington lobbyists can buy, and a popular culture programmed to divert and stultify, is without precedent. More nuanced perhaps, but the results are both unambiguous and familiar. Denis Halliday and Hans von Sponeck, the senior United Nations officials in Iraq during the American and British-led blockade, are in no doubt they witnessed genocide. They saw no gas chambers. Insidious, undeclared, even presented wittily as enlightenment on the march, the Third World War and its genocide proceeded, human being by human being.

In the coming election campaign in Britain, the candidates will refer to this war only to laud “our boys”. The candidates are almost identical political mummies shrouded in the Union Jack and the Stars and Stripes. As Blair demonstrated a mite too eagerly, the British elite loves America because America allows it to barrack and bomb the natives and call itself a “partner”. We should interrupt their fun.

John Pilger was born and educated in Sydney, Australia. He has been a war correspondent, film-maker and playwright. Based in London, he has written from many countries and has twice won British journalism’s highest award, that of “Journalist of the Year,” for his work in Vietnam and Cambodia.  READ MORE: http://www.commondreams.org/view/2010/03/28-5 

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!