Tuesday, November 30, 2004

Something To Believe In

I was directed to an article on Yahoo news titled "Families Endure Private War" By Mike Dorning. It is a reprint from the Chicago Tribune.

It starts with this: "Holly Friedrichsen was hoping for a tear--or a smile, at least--when she held aloft her 5-month-old daughter to give her husband his first glimpse of their child.

Instead, what she got was what she and other wives call the Marine Look. "There's really no emotion to it."

I strongly suggest that you hit this link, and read the short but informative article, before reading what follows.

During, and for a while after the Vietnam version of this madness, I worked, in a very unofficial way, with some vets that were sent up to Canada, by friends, to 'cool out' in a low stress environment where flags and loud phoney patriots and confused family members would not be in the way.

Mostly I just hung out with guys and helped keep the safe house together. One guy explained to me that I was tolerated and even accepted, mostly because I knew when to shut up. I spent a lot of time listening, eye to eye with my mouth shut. Then the dreams started. I've never slept much but for a while, I didn't want to sleep at all.

One guy I hung out with used to walk around, in Milwaukee, with a shrapnel grenade in his pocket, the pin pulled and a strip of tape holding the spoon in place. He was a very ordinary working class American guy before the war. All of them were.

Some commentators seem to think it is the tactics of the insurgents that created so many haunted vets but that is wrong. With individual exceptions, American soldiers do not like fighting civilians.

With no exceptions, they don't want to fight senseless un-winnable political wars against poorly armed, highly motivated civilians. Especially when they fight with such selfless determination for their own homes.

They are not fighting an army. They are fighting kids, old men, shop keepers and teachers. Patriotic civilians resisting a foreign occupier. Just as the soldiers themselves would if their own country were occupied.

Calling an artillery strike on a building and then going into what is left of the building, to find the shredded bodies of women, children, and grandmothers, no different from what they left at home, has a profound and lasting effect on a person who is not already psychotic.

No one wants to see himself as a murderer of babies. It is very hard to care about or respect yourself after that. And believe me, they never forget. Most eventually learn to live with it. many don't and their lives are usually short.

Fighting German, Japanese, or Chinese Soldiers is one thing, fighting peasants, farmers, and shop keepers is entirely different. There is a huge price to pay. A price that Bush and his ilk know and care nothing about. While starting this stupid war, Bush cut the pay and the VA benefits for soldiers and vets. Another show of care and undying gratitude from our proud 'war time president'.

A recent email from one of several vets I am in contact with said, (forgive me man, I paraphrase your words) "I don't believe in hell, but I'm not worried if there is such a place. There's going to be so many Christians and patriots, there won't will be room for me."

We have a duty to stop this horror. There are no excuses for inaction. If you have come to understand how wrong and evil this war is, and you choose to do nothing but whine, you are as guilty as any of our new style 'patriots'.

See what happens in Canada over the next couple of days and then ask yourself why Canadians should care so much more than you do. That last sentence is not for those who have begun to activate themselves. It is for the rest of you.

Friday, November 26, 2004

The War Trickles Home

To start, a short quote from an article in the L.A Times, reprinted at the Smirking Chip. The article is worth a read for anyone interested in a worms eye view of the war effort.

DOÑA ANA RANGE, N.M.Members of a California Army National Guard battalion preparing for deployment to Iraq said this week that they were under strict lockdown and being treated like prisoners rather than soldiers by Army commanders at the remote desert camp where they are training.

More troubling, a number of the soldiers said, is that the training they have received is so poor and equipment shortages so prevalent that they fear their casualty rate will be needlessly high when they arrive in Iraq early next year. "We are going to pay for this in blood," one soldier said.

America has a long history of sending large numbers of poorly trained, poorly equipped soldiers into battle. It started in the American civil war and continues to this day. The "All Voluntary Army", represented a departure from that strategy. But, there is a worm in the apple.

As the professional cadre is used up, more and more of these short trained citizen soldier/conscript units will be arriving in country. Civilian deaths and military casualties will climb. As they did in Vietnam when destruction of the professional, regular Army troops, led to the introduction of poorly trained draftees into combat.

Scared, untrained, men with guns are dangerous and unpredictable. The worst of the civilian massacres in Vietnam, were committed by conscripts.

Not because draftees were somehow more vicious than the professional soldiers but because untrained, scared men with guns, are dangerous and unpredictable. They panic, they forget what little training they've had, commanders lose control, and they shoot anything that breathes.
In a state of pure terror.

They are not good soldiers and their casualty rates show it. Their losses will be high in the beginning of their tour. On the job training for such a dangerous occupation is madness and waste. Where failing a training exercise, often means death. That's OJT, Army style.

Most of the Guardsmen are guys who like to play Army on a monthly weekend, during peace time. Yes, they tend to vote Republican. Now, they find themselves face to face with the terrible reality of what they have chosen for the country.

This reality 'therapy' will alter the thinking of some of them. It isn't theoretical now. Dreams of heroic deeds and accolades of a grateful country are replaced by the hard reality of being a cipher, in a political game they have no voice in. Face to face with the reality that the Commander-in-Chief does not give a shit about them, only his own ambitions. It is a learning experience.

We must use these 'reality demonstrations' as educational tools. To break through the confusion of that half of the country that is sleepwalking over a precipice.

Remember this old joke? "I want to die peacefully in my sleep, like my grandfather. Not screaming in terror like his passengers."

Well, Guardsmen, welcome to the passenger list.
Do you now wish you had awakened a bit sooner? I wish you had too.

That sounds callous, even in my ears. But, it's a reflection of the hard reality of the situation. The war keeps coming home. It continues to become the harsh reality for more and more of us, as more men and money are poured into the pit that has been dug in Iraq.

The trickle of cost has just begun to be felt. Not 1/000th of a percent of what ordinary people experience in Iraq. But, the trickle has begun in earnest. The channel will inevitably widen. The war is coming home.

Once more, I would like to remind readers that I encourage anonymous posting for those wishing to avoid the registration process.

Wednesday, November 24, 2004

Patriotism and Self Worship

Patriotism, often a thinly veiled form of collective self-worship, celebrates our goodness, our ideals, our mercy and bemoans the perfidiousness of those who hate us.
from War Is a Force that Gives Us Meaning, 2002, by Chris Hedges

This quote from Chris Hedges' book, has been bouncing around my head for the last couple of days. I'm impressed by his ability to sum up the sort of patriotism that is being displayed in America, in one short sentence.

Thinly veiled self worship in which we praise ourselves and condemn all who aren't us, especially those who we stand in opposition to.

The current American version of Patriotism, not only bemoans the 'evil' of all foreigners, except the British, it also targets much of the American population. This ugly new American 'patriotism' denotes not loyalty to the country but to one man, George Bush and his dangerously irresponsible neo-conservative power grab.

Traditional conservatives take note, when you finally wake up and realize that the neo-conservative corporate elite, have stolen your country and spent enough to have your great grand kids still paying the debts they are running up, while they are tax exempt, you will become a target of that patriotism as soon as you seriously speak up. Assuming you ever become patriotic enough to speak up.

Genuine patriotic love for the country itself, is not a popularity builder. It will necessarily bring you into opposition with the new patriots who seem to believe that Jesus is a member of the corporate elite that makes senseless war, spends like crazy, and pays no taxes.

From the Greek, patriotism refers to the "fatherland". It refers to loyalty to ones land and people, not an individual, not some demagogue with an itch to become the first Emperor of Imperial America.

Someone who is very important to me read this blog recently. He disagrees with me and my view of what is becoming of America. As I expected he would. All he actually said was that he is a patriotic guy and loves the flag. He is maybe the last guy on the planet that I want to argue with, especially about politics. Given his mild reply, I suspect the feeling is mutual.

But, this idea that patriots just do what a government tells them to and that those who disagree are un-patriotic, truly sticks in the craw. It is an assumption that a significant percent of the American population has bought into, to their peril and great cost.

Naked corporate fascism has come to America, wrapped in the flag and waving the bible.
It has found America easy pickings because so many Americans worship the flag and an Americanized Jesus, but not the things those symbols stand for.

I never lost my love for the things America once stood for. I still love what it may be again. I do not love this arrogant power hungry, coddled rich boy, who deserted the military during Vietnam and now wants to set the world on fire for the sake of the very rich and for his own ideas of personal glory.

If only he had wanted Osama Ben Laden, the one who actually attacked us, and did so much damage, as much as he wants Iraqi oil, the enrichment of Haliburton, and the 'honor' of being a "War time president".

If George Bush is a patriot, who needs it?

A little light reading for Patriots, blogs written by our soldiers, the ones doing the corporate dirty work under our besmirched flag.

Friday, November 19, 2004


In the last while we've seen a lot of changes in the Bush cabinet, with the promise of more to come. This changing of the guard represents the current defining example of that ancient adage, "The more things change, the more they stay the same.". Only more so, one might add.

Powell, once seen to be the voice of reason in the cabinet, eventually became the voice of compliance, damaging his credibility, perhaps fatally. Whatever reason was left in that voice, the president has been deaf to it, from the beginning.

Gross, Gonzales, Rice, etc. just more of the same only, more so.

Now they have begun clearing out the non-believers and liberal democrats from the CIA. We don't want anyone who balks at using the CIA in America on Americans. We don't want information coming from anyone who doesn't see things the way 'we' do, the president seems to think. What else can be meant by the idea of enforced "loyalty to the president"? Not loyalty to the country and the government but loyalty to the man. Government employees should be party members now?

If there is no one left, to let on we're failing, no one will know. Mission Accomplished. We're winning the war and democracy has never been sweeter. And when we've incarcerated all those malcontents that don't believe our new democracy is sweet, it will be sweeter still.

God Bless America the Sweet.

Democracy and the founding personal liberties are being beaten to death, before our eyes, by an authoritarian gang of corporate sponsored party hacks. It is a misery to behold.

Every arm and branch of government is being filled with cookie cutter Republican functionaries. The president, himself a long time beneficiary of unqualified appointments, sees no problem with surrounding himself and filling all niches of his government with such appointees.

They will know which side of the bread the butter is on. On the Republican side, of course. On the George Bush and America has never been sweeter side. That is where the jam and butter is. Let the 'reality mongers' eat hard tack and burnt crumbs.

Of course, the sweetness can only spread so far and so wide. All may have been born equal but all do not merit equally. Proven allies first, then their deserving friends and relatives.

For those who merely voted for them and had the bumper sticker on their cars, well, thank God they have a Godly Commander-in-Chief to feed their sons to.

Those folks should not be expecting a share of the pie. After all they are lucky already, just to be 'right minded' Americans. Safe from foreign terrorists and free to do what is expected of them.

Don't expect jobs, the corporate need for cheap offshore labour makes America competitive. The military will supply employment for the young and the rest of you should be able to find your own jobs. After all, you're Americans, fearlessly independent, willing to take your chances in the new corporate America. You're the right stuff. Or you should be.

Don't expect tax relief unless you are of the deserving rich. America is stronger and better when the rich prosper. Someone has to pay taxes to support the now deregulated budget deficit and the war. And that someone is, naturally, you Mr. and Ms working and middle class America. Remember, when exonerating the very wealthy from all responsibility for their large part of the tab, America is made stronger and Americans are made, well, poorer.

Improved medical benefits and more inclusive medical insurance for the citizens of the greatest country on earth? Care for the elderly and those who can't afford big insurance premiums? Surely you jest. That's communism here and now and a waste of the savings you might otherwise have horded for your unproductive old age.

Remember, we are not lazy cowardly Europeans or cold hearted Canadians. We know that having the best medical care in the world, for that percentage of Americans who can afford it, is what really counts. The profits of the giant drug manufacturers and the medical establishment make America strong, a great place to Live. Not easy access to medical care. That isn't freedom.

But, be assured that your presidents sweets will be spread far enough to have his followers in every nook and cranny of government, from the VA to the Supreme Court.

With the weakling Powell replaced by the presidents favorite unqualified ideologue, Ms Rice, and the scary old war horse Ashcroft replaced by Mr. Bush's most trusted private lawyer and enemy of international law and justice, Mr. Gonzales. With the loyal functionary Mr. Gross cleaning any free thinkers from the CIA and Mr. Rumsfeld still firmly in charge of the Defense Department, the new Corporate Imperial America is near complete, near perfect. Now, regarding the Supreme Court...

It is a great day for ancient truisms. "The rich get richer and the poor get poorer. The more things change, the more they stay the same". Only, more so.

Wednesday, November 17, 2004

Another American Story

After I decided that I would not plunge into the void by way of suicide, to escape my anxiety packed situation, things got better somehow. I had already made my official departure, as far as my father was concerned. In his mind I was well on my way to a year in Thailand.

I knew that the number one way you got caught was by staying around your home town.
I was a bit too low class for Hueytown. It was a bedroom community of union and lower management people from the steel mills and iron foundries, a couple of miles away. Their kids went to college.

Most of my friends lived in Dolomite, a neighborhood much less prosperous than Hueytown. It was a mix of steel and iron workers, auto shop workers, part time mechanics, and industrial laborers. Several local families were getting government "relief", a nice word for welfare. Government handouts was the term often used.

Dolomite seemed to have a lot of it's young guys in the military. You might expect such a neighborhood to have a lot of flag waving, support the boys patriotism among folks on those shabby streets, but it was not so. There were those with that mind set but many felt real ambivalence toward the war.

Among the guys my age, there weren't a lot of hero stories going around like the year before. Someone's older brother was in the 101st Airborne, the Screaming Eagles. We all knew this boy, a year or two older than us. He had been part of the one and only big airborne assault in the Vietnam war. It was a horrible disaster for our guys. The 101st Airborne was slaughtered. "Hung up in the trees and blown to shit. And what the fuck for?" our local survivor was quoted as saying.

Last years heroes were coming home from South East Asia, telling stories even more terrible than on the news. Last years heroes telling any guy that would listen. "Don't go.
Don't join, do anything you can, but don't go."

That was the clear message from more than one returning veteran. A message that was heard by even the toughest boys on the street. The message was coming from macho big brothers, from the idolized older cousins and football heroes. The ones that could talk about it. Some returned in boxes some wounded so badly they were talked about only in hushed whispers among the boys.

The heroes came back telling the parts of the story most had not heard. About the reality of what was being done, the reality of being a completely expendable game piece in a delusional political game. A game that none of us understood. As one returning vet put it, "Even if we win, what do we get?"

None of us knew an answer to that and neither did the government.. Patriotism seemed to be the only reason to go fight. Flag waving patriotism, backed by no discernible need or danger, with nothing to gain, seemed a weak reason to "sign your life away" as we called signing the enlistment contract.

Recruiters always smiled and said that when they give you the pen and hand you the contract. Big smile. "Here you go young man, sign your life away." The only time a recruiting officer is 100% honest.

I knew the Air Force would not contact the FBI or local police until my AWOL date hit thirty days. I used part of that grace period to hang out with friends in both Dolomite and Birmingham. Things had changed a bit in my year away with the Air Force. A subtle difference. Guys that finished high school last year were all coming up for the draft. Much of the post high school exuberance was already replaced with a certain dread of the near future.

Most had already passed their selective service physicals, in spite all the flat feet, weak lungs, trick knees and such, many had hoped would exempt them from the dubious thrills of the Army.

A few more had joined the Navy or Air Force, mostly to avoid the army. The thinking being that four years in the Air Force or Navy beats a year in the jungle.

While the recent returnees had cast a pall on the thinking of the boys, the heroic war stories did not disappear. Almost all American boys were big on the hearing of, repeating of, and enlargement of real war stories. Even those most terrified were mesmerized by the battle stories told by returning friends and relatives. I used to do the same.

One way to make such a future bearable is to imagine yourself a victorious hero, returning with medals, stories and only minor wounds. Maybe a manly but not disfiguring scar.

It was a way of facing a dangerous crossing, to envision yourself being heroic, victorious, and invincible. Only the very young can do that in the face of the harsh reality. That is why the military likes to get them while they are young.

Some guys are good at maintaining that victorious vision of themselves. It gives them a false sense of courage that makes it easier to face the inevitable. That vision tends to disappear sometime between basic training and the first instant of combat.

A year before, I had attempted to sweeten the bitter pill of losing the life I wanted to make, by entertaining fantasies of heroism and lascivious Asian pleasures. Somehow I would not miss my real life or hear it calling to me. It didn't work, of course. For me, the cushioning fantasy disintegrated immediately upon contact with the military.

A year later I was listening to the next crop of ' abductees ', about to be conveyed into the guts of the machine. To be broken and remade. To be trained, indoctrinated, and cowed into submission. And the question, "What do we get if we win?" kept resounding as I talked to and listened to these kids, with lives hardly started, facing a hell whose purpose none of us knew.

I felt strange among them. At most, one or two years older, I felt some how removed from my friends and the place. Already separated by both the past and the future.

I remember these things and I am filled with a sense of urgency. Driven by a desire to remind, especially those Americans of my generation, that we must not do this to another generation of young Americans. Not for the greed of a few, not for the ambitions of the rich and powerful, and not for the mad hollow rhetoric of demagogues with messianic delusions.

We keep saying "never again". But, we keep doing it, again and again. New victims, new excuses and rhetoric, new justifications for barbarism. In the name of Allah, in the name of God and Christ, in the name of loyalty to leaders loyal only to themselves and their cronies.

Monday, November 15, 2004

Annex Canada?

Thomas McCullock enjoys upsetting my apple cart. He's done it again, sending me this. Just to brighten my day, no doubt. You're a pal, Thomas.

A quote from the article, in the Globe and Mail

The minority Liberal government will have to decide by year's end whether to renew the mandate of a joint Canada-U.S. military planning group, which has been working on an ambitious project that could bring the armies and navies of both countries under a single command for North American defense...

One can easily imagine the many, many, ways such a deal could go horribly wrong for Canada and Canadians. On the bright side, Canadians would not have to worry about a flood of American draft dodgers coming up here. We'll be too busy retreating to the bush (bush is forest, or 'the woods', in Canadian) or attempting to flee to Europe and Asia.

Unlike some of the more frantic posters at Vive le Canada, I think this is not likely to come about, but the mere possibility of American troops on Canadian soil is intolerable. This is a President and an administration that has shown a marked propensity for 'extreme solutions' to fictional problems.

This is a government that has no respect for it's own constitutional and democratic traditions. A government that is openly hostile to the rights of citizens of other countries.

America is a dangerous friend. Let us not forget that the occupational forces in Iraqi are now there at the "invitation" of the appointed Iraqi government.

America has few friends because to be Americas' friend is to do as you are told, what ever the price. Remember how Americans reacted, to France and Canada, for not going along with Bush's personal crusade against Saddam and Iraq.

America is never really your friend. The new covenant in Washington sees itself as a historical end unto itself. No other interests are valid, the cost to you, is never too high, for their purposes.

I reread the preceding paragraphs and I want to say, "no, that is too hard, too cynical". I wish I could say that. I wish I could feel moved to edit, to soften my view. But that is how it looks. This is not the America that I once, long ago, had such hope and belief in. This is the New America. Don't trust it.

I get no pleasure from saying these things. It fills me with grief that our once noble, revolutionary democratic experiment, has evolved into an imperial republic, bent on the destruction of it's founding principles. Not only at home, but in the world, as well.

Looking at the current state of American democracy, it is a very sad sick joke when Bush and members of his cabinet tell the world that they are spreading democracy to the heathens.

On a different note: A bit of home cooking in the form of an interview on a Mussel Shoals, Alabama radio station. Baghdad Buddy, is an Army Reserve Major stationed in Iraq, this is his last 'show' before returning to Alabama, on leave. Go there, click on "Baghdad Buddy" on their home page.

For Canadians and others not familiar with the feel of local media in American cities, check this out. This is mainstream small town radio, all over America. No questions, no doubts, just wave the flag and god bless us lucky folks who are free to buy anything we can afford.

The Major who understands his political responsibilities does a good job of painting the Bush correct image but does have a slip of the tongue when he describes the events in Iraq as an insurgent war. He quickly covers himself by calling opposition fighters "exturgents", as "they mostly come from outside the country."

The Iraqi people love us, of course.

Thursday, November 11, 2004

Now's Not the Time for Your Tears

It's Rememberence Day in Canada . The eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month. The official end of World War One. The Great War. The War to End All Wars. When we come together to remember the price paid, by so many, in our many wars.

That is the official reason for the holiday but more and more it feels like a celebration of war itself. I can't celebrate. The celebration feels like a betrayal of all those lives not lived. All those people, all those young men. All the novels not written. All the things not invented, explorations not made, and children never cherished. Husbands and fathers who never came home. All that promise and possibility wiped from the earth in one big swipe.

It is hard not to remember that WWI was not nearly the end of war.

It fills me with sadness but it also fills me with determination to denounce this current American madness for what it is. We remember the Holocaust and swear to never forget, "Never again". But, already we have forgotten and prepare to do it all again for new and better excuses remarkably similar to the excuses we've always used.

I remember a very hot July day, on the pistol range used by the Jefferson County, Alabama sheriffs department. I was 13 maybe 14 years old, out with my dad and a couple of other deputies Braving the heat to practice for an up coming match.

There was a man there, about fifty, who came with one of the deputies but certainly wasn't any kind of police officer. He was nice. Soft nice like a Sunday school teacher without the fakeness. Cops can be nice too but it's different. Harder, there's always an sort of jovial brutality in cop nice.

I was wearing army fatigues, as I always did at the range. My favorite cop , Duke, was also in the National guard and he wore fatigues to the range.

The man asked me my age and then wanted to know why I was already dressed like a soldier. It was a strange question, in the company. No cop had ever asked such a question and I knew a lot of cops. It was obvious that the man didn't like it.

He was irritated and said something about the War to End All Wars and how stupid it was. "Dressing babies like fodder for the next war". I was offended at being referred to as a 'baby'. But I was more taken by the man and his passion, so unexpected in the company. More so than I knew, at the time.

When I realized he was irritated at my dad and not at me, my curiosity was seriously piqued. It was hot as hell on the treeless range. The man gave me a bottle of Frosty root bear. That was when the bottles were shaped like bears or maybe snowmen. It looked cold, even in the sun.

We took the pop over to a lone water faucet standing in the weeds near the target shack, to cool it off. He tried to tell me why my fatigues bothered him and that it wasn't personal to me. I didn't understand anything he said.. But I knew he had a different attitude towards the wars than I had heard from my dad or any grown up. What struck me and makes me remember him was the deep sadness I saw in his eyes.

I remember that, most of all.

A couple of weeks ago, I took an elderly friend to her hair dresser appointment in an area more residential than my usual downtown turf.. Every street corner had two or three boys dressed in sharp new military cadet uniforms. All looking about ten to fourteen yrs.

They were selling poppies for the coming memorial day. I talked with a couple of boys who wanted to know why I wasn't wearing a poppy. I told them but I was more interested in listening than talking.

One particularly bright young man, who had been selling his poppy quota quite aggressively, agreed with me that in a sense the holiday was a celebration of war because, "War is important and we have to be ready, all the time." He quoted something insane from Gen. Paton about war being the height of human endeavor.

We spoke amiably enough, for a moment. I walked away thinking about the man on the shooting range, all those years ago. Now I understand what I saw in his eyes when he looked at me and my army fatigues.

But, now is not the time for our tears. It's time to gird the loins, buck up, and rededicate ourselves to the task of resisting this current madness.

If we fail to raise our voices at every turn, then only the war lovers will be heard.

a good read for Rememberence day

Monday, November 08, 2004

For Whom the Bell Tolls

How it looks from here

It appears that seventy five percent of the people who voted for Bush still believe there were weapons of mass destruction in Iraq and that a connection existed between Saddam and Osama Ben Laden and 9/11.

That certainly reinforces the old Big Lie theory. It would also seem to indicate that much of America simply isn't paying attention to what is going on.

I suppose when you get your view of the world from FOX news and televangelists, you aren't bothered by facts. You just know what's right. Truth is a matter of who you choose to believe. Simple, eh?

Objective facts merely confuse us. Sure Bush is a compulsive liar. So what? Bush lies for God and Bush ain't no egghead. He's as dumb as a duck and we're proud of him. He's one of us.

I want you people who voted Republican to remember that, when they take your kids to fight for Cheneys' millions. When beauty comes home in a body bag, when athlete of the year comes back permanently mangled, when your once cheerful lad returns changed and estranged from you in ways you could not have imagined, remember, YOU asked for it. You made it all possible.

Ask not for whom the bell tolls, for in fact, it tolls for you.

Saturday, November 06, 2004

The Draft: After I Get Out of the Army

I remember hanging out with the guys in the "smoking pit" at the end of Oak Hall, at High school. It wasn't a pit but just an area at one end of that section of class rooms where smoking was allowed.

I and most of my friends were seventeen, on the verge of having to register for the draft, at 18.

The draft and the war, but mostly the draft, was a daily topic of smoking pit conversation.
It seemed that half the guys I knew were sure they wouldn't get drafted. Like Bob, a clean cut but cool guy who told us, at least once a week, that his aunts and grandmother assured him his back was bad and his feet were flat and none of his uncles passed their physicals in WWII. No way would he get drafted.

Everybody had bad knees or weak ankles, sick mothers, or some sort of get out of jail free card, regarding the draft. I don't know if they really believed it or if those were just reassuring stories they told themselves, to be able to ignore what was on the horizon for all of us. I do know that most of them, and their aunts, were wrong.

Standing in the cold morning air, crouched over cigarettes, stamping the penny loafers that were a 'must have' in 1967, guys in their last year or two of high school talked a lot about the things they were planning to do with their lives. Trades, businesses, marriages, schools, etc.

For this crop of working class boys, virtually every statement and rejoinder was prefaced with the phrase, "When I get out of the army?" I remember over hearing that phrase, several times, every day. Anytime a guy talked about what he wanted to do with his life.

We didn't actually talk about the war very much. We talked about the draft, we talked about girls, cars, jokes, and parents, told lies about girls and risky adventures, talked about the looming draft and talked mostly about "When I get out of the army."

When the draft was finally abolished, by Nixon, I hoped that mine would be the last generation of young Americans to view the future as something that happens after you get out of the army. Like so many of us, I thought that would be the case, until recently.

Even hard core Republicans, such as my father have come to see Vietnam as a "tragic mistake that should never have happened". Dad gives himself a pass on his former support for the war and his willingness to feed me to the war machine, because "We just didn't know what was really going on".

Well, I accept that. With a view of the world and America and the meaning of patriotism shaped by the experience of the second world war, his generation was damned slow to see and recognize what was going on around them.

That level of ignorance may be forgivable, the first time. But, not again.

No one in mine or my fathers generation can pretend that we haven't seen this particular evil raise it's head before. None of us can excuse, going along with this madness, with a pretense of ignorance and innocence. It's way too late for that. Our generations have lived that bit of history and there is no excuse for not recognizing what is happening in Iraq and the flimsy lies that are used to justify it.

Say what they will, the Army and Marines are grossly over extended. Recruitments are way down as the corporate and political motivations for this war become more apparent and as it is becoming obvious that a contract with the military is binding only on the enlistee. This government can and will change the terms of the contract on a presidential whim.

Massive numbers of new bodies are needed, just to maintain present commitments. Virtually our entire military is in Iraq, right now. They are over extended, under supplied, with troops who have been in a combat zone for much too long, already.

The draft is coming back. There is no other way to maintain the number of troops needed. America has under taken an aggressive imperial policy that will demand more bodies than a professional all volunteer force can provide. The draft is coming back.

Eighteen to thirty four year olds, this time. A whole new generation of young Americans viewing the future as something that happens after you get out of the army. Assuming you get out of the army.

Afghanistan was understandable, inevitable even. Iraq raises the thorny question of why, in the minds of future casualty figures. The young Americans needed to pull off this corporate coup, are asking that question. They will begin to ask it more and more. It is a simple and very important question that will not answered.

We've seen it before. I saw it before and I know how important the question becomes to those who view the future as something that happens, when you get out of the army.

Wednesday, November 03, 2004

Thinking of Leaving?

Since starting this blog, I have received a number of emails from Americans expressing the desire to move out of the States. Anyone with any awareness realizes that the next four years are going to be strange and difficult in America. To say the least.

I hear from friends down there, that talk of exiting the 'Homeland' is very common.. For most, that is not likely to happen. It takes money to immigrate to other countries.
Money and education, which most of those likely to be turned into cannon fodder, simply do not have.

I think it fair to say that many Americans richly deserve the hell they have signed up for. Unfortunately, many who will pay the highest price, do not.

It is one thing to go about proclaiming your 'freedoms', it is an entirely different thing to live as a free people. Thomas Jefferson said that liberty requires eternal vigilance. Most Americans seem to have lost the nerve for that sort of vigilance, apparently assuming that Liberty is a freebee guaranteed by someone else. A roll the neocons and their pet politicians are eager to assume.

Unable and unwilling to see beyond the dictates of this strange political/religious cult that has over taken American Christianity, their arrogance and ignorance leads them, blindly following a fool over the precipice.

Kerry weaseled out. That's my take on it. Once again the Democrats blinked and lost nerve. Given the amount of registration and voter fraud pulled off by the Republicans, in so many areas, it was a betrayal of the people to give up so easy.

Kerry was never a solution to the problems America has dug itself into over the last four years. But, he would have represented a brief respite from this over the top assault on American democracy and the constitution.

It may be of some interest, to follow Kerrys' senate activities over the next couple of years, I suppose. But, the weasel cowed at the most crucial moment. Like so many, he chose to submit.

The world will not submit to this ignorant greedy little rich boy and his corporate masters. Too many Americans believe the country can go it alone. As they fail, and the price comes home to them, they will blame and punish everyone but themselves.

George once told his biographer that a great leader never admits a mistake. Georgie is determined to be remembered as a great leader, whatever the cost to America and the world.

In truth, this empty, morally weak, emotionally and intellectually stunted little man, does indeed, represent the character of far too many Americans.

Like so many of his countrymen, this president who never had a passport before becoming president, is largely unaware of the global reality. The real world price of this arrogant disinterest will be paid by all of America. All of America.

For those of you planning to exit the beast's belly, get your passports, NOW. Do some real research regarding possible destinations and the immigration laws of those countries. Don't wait until the shit hits the fan to plan your escape. You really need to know where you are headed before you start that journey.

Draft evaders were eventually 'forgiven'. Deserters are still considered criminals, after almost forty years. The clear lesson in that, is that you want to save yourself before you're fitted for the uniform. It is much more difficult after they've claimed you for the army.