Special Comment: A Nation at War

7/28/2017. The day 46 men and 3 women voted in the middle of the night to take health care away from 16 million United States Citizens.
 
If this were a foreign attack aimed at destroying the lives of 16 million citizens we would have declared it an act of war.
 
And, indeed, it was an act of war: class war. Those 49 people acted to advance the fortunes of the very few at the cost of the lives of the least fortunate among us.
 
This is the kind of war that is being waged by the wealthy against the poor. It is being waged in the middle of the night. It is being waged behind closed doors. Make no mistake about it, they will try again; try again to commit mass murder by depriving the least fortunate among us any access to medical treatment that would save their lives.
 
We are a nation at war.
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The Watering Hole; Thursday April 7 2016; Wage Peace, Not War part II — “Defense” Budget;

“We’re run by people that don’t get it. I don’t know, it’s a lack of street smarts,
it’s a lack of intelligence, to be honest with you, but it’s just a horrible situation.”
(Donald Trump)

A revolting statistic: The US military outspends the next 13 top-spending nations combined.

Military spending, WaPo

(▲Courtesy Washington Post▲)

Not sure why it is, really, but stats like that MAKE ME MAD!!! Can anyone come up with a better and more efficient means for a nation to piss away its wealth and sustenance than blowing the better part of a trillion dollars on its war machine? What exactly has that philosophy bought us US since, say, Sept 2 1945, aka the end of the last truly defensive war in which the US (necessarily) engaged? What’s been our gain in Korea? Vietnam? Grenada? Panama? Bosnia? Kuwait? Afghanistan? Iraq? And today, Syria? How many global “friends” have we acquired courtesy of our military adventurism? None? How many enemies have we made? Lots? To what end?

Are we safer now? Is the M.I.C. better off?

The answers to those last two questions are, of course, NO and YES, resp.; and therein lies the rub: it’s the MONEY, stupid.

Here in Amurkkka we loves us some military. Cuz there’s MONEY in it, dontcha know! OK, so there’s also wanton death, destruction, murder, insanity, etc., but what the hell, the MONEY trumps all of that, right? Right. So we continue on our wayward path of always spending more, more, more! on war (aka, to the uninformed, “Defense”) than the rest of the civilized world COMBINED! — and we leave nothing but death, destruction, and insanity  — and hatred of us — in our wake even as we accomplish only what the billionaires want most: more MONEY handed them by we the people. Conclusion: as a nation, we ain’t worth — to the rest of the world — much more than the powder it would take to blow US all to hell.

No worries, though; I have an idea. 🙂

We currently spend $711 Billion per year on what we call “defense.” The world’s second biggest spender on “defense” is our (arch enemy?) China who spends, according to the chart up top, around $145 Billion (make it $146B for easy figuring). Suppose we, US, would agree, in the interest of global sanity, to spend no more than that on our war machine. That would leave $711B minus $146B, or $565B that could be invested elsewhere, maybe even on PEACEful enterprises!

Wow.

Think of it. More than half-a-TRILLION bucks left over! Half a trillion bucks once allocated for ‘defense’ but no longer wasted on bombs and bullets and stuff. Is it really necessary that our “leaders” forever continue to presume that their own reality must remain focused on and be governed by that line from Herman Wouk’s masterful tome The Winds of War, words attributed to Adolf Hitler?

“. . . I have never stopped building planes, planes, planes, U-boats, U-boats, U-boats! . . . I have piled bombs, bombs, bombs, tanks, tanks, tanks to the sky! It has been a wasteful, staggering burden on my people, but what other language have great states ever understood? It is out of a sense of strength that I have offered peace! I Have been rejected and scorned . . .”

That’s an able summation of what’s defined the US “defense” prescription for the last 70 years at least, but a quick look around serves to dismiss the thesis that a great state and its sense of strength can collectively serve to support peace anywhere among us before its leader(s) become rejected and scorned. So why do we continue to follow that self-destructive path? Why do we so love war? What’s so wrong with peace and with caring for others? What is it that forces us to insist on the always-failed military non-solution?

Simple. It’s the MONEY.

So, OK, we in the US currently piss away budget $711 Billion annually for “defense,” and a handful of “important” people (see Dick Cheney, e.g.) get rich off the process even as millions around the world suffer and/or die in result. That essentially spells out, seems to me, what could be described as an able summation of a genuinely nasty setup and policy.

I recommend a few simple changes; here’s a quick summary:

  1. Reserve $146 billion for “defense” in order to keep us on par with China.
  2. Of the (annual!) remaining $565 Billion, we can begin by allocating $100 Billion (annually!) to assist and provide for the needs of refugees who are fleeing the explosive (thanks mainly to US) Middle East — Syria, Iraq, etc.
  3. Of the remaining $465 billion, allocate $75 Billion (annually!) to assist and support refugees(?) from Central America and Mexico, also to enable each and all to obtain legal assistance that enables them to apply for and gain US citizenship, should they so desire.
  4. $390 billion remains. How about $100 Billion (annually!) to be invested in the maintenance and rebuilding of infrastructure here at home?
  5. Of the $290 Billion remaining, $75 billion could be invested (annually!) in anti-poverty programs/initiatives in cities and states everywhere across the country.
  6. Next, apply $100 Billion (annually!) on scientific program(s) designed and developed to help SOLVE the human-caused global climate change dilemma/crisis, both here at home and around the world.
  7. Invest $75 Billion (annually!) wherever needed in domestic Public Education.
  8. Invest $35 Billion (annually!) in a rejuvenated Peace Corps, dedicated to helping the needy in countries everywhere.
  9. And finally, use the remaining $5 Billion (annually!) to pay the salaries and office costs required by those who will work endlessly to devise the mechanisms of forever CLOSING and inverting the tax loopholes that benefit Corporations and billionaires everywhere!

There. A skeletonized recommendation of the means to relieve this country of its never-ending (annualized) planes, planes, planes, bombs, bombs, bombs, tanks, tanks, tanks piled to the sky (!.!.!.) philosophy, and to erect in its place a series of well-financed (each and every year!!) programs that will benefit people both at home and the world over; programs that will reduce (rather than accelerate) hatred of the US by people both at home and the world over. Consider all of this to be the latest incarnation of the

WAGE PEACE, NOT WAR!

domestic and global MOVEMENT!

Or —

We can go the other way, elect Donald Trump as our President, and wallow in the swill that his tremendous acumen on all such matters has already suggested:

I know how to fix it, so easy, that aspect of it. And even, you know, the nuclear.
I am doing so good on nuclear by people that are fair. What’s happening now is
we’re paying for the world’s — we’re like the world’s policeman but they don’t
pay us for it. We lose a fortune on the military. You know, our military budget is
phenomenally higher than any other budget but it’s not for us, we’re protecting
everybody else and we lose a fortune.

(Donald Trump)

Nice choice, right?

OPEN THREAD

 

 

The Watering Hole; Thursday February 4 2016; Religion, War, Politics, Past, Present

“Were such things here as we do speak about?
Or have we eaten on the insane root
that takes the reason prisoner?”
(William Shakespeare, in Macbeth)

By the time this year’s presidential election is held, twelve full years will have passed since I wrote an essay critique of what were, to my eyes, current and troubling political issues implicit in the November 2004 re-election of George W. Bush. I find it curious that today, fresh manifestations of those same troubling issues remain on the front burner and include, in particular, the Republican cry for more war in the M.E. (this time against ISIL, itself a most likely consequence of Bush’s illicit war in Iraq that was well underway on election day ’04), along with their demands that abortion/stem cell research/LGBT marriage be disallowed and that their version of “religious freedom” be never limited.

Simple question: Why? Why does such nonsense continue day after day, month after month, year after year, election after election? “Have we eaten on the insane root
that takes the reason prisoner?” Seems a fairly safe bet, actually. See below.

******

November 06, 2004

I know and well understand that this topic is one which is quick to wear out its welcome, but nevertheless I think it’s critical that no one should stick their head in sand in the hope that it’ll go away, because it won’t, it’s here to stay. Unfortunately.

As I’ve said many times before, I really and truly do not care what others believe, which church they attend (or don’t attend), or anything else that has anything to do with religion — it is, absolutely, a personal matter and should forever stay as such.

But I must confess that I become very troubled when what should be private religious matters are placed front and center upon the public stage, and when such matters are blatantly used to not only influence an election along dogmatic lines but also to shove a particular brand of said dogma down *everyone’s* throat via any legal means possible — ranging from local law to Constitutional amendment — my hackles quickly raise, as does my blood pressure.

There seems to be a differential that’s developed which I don’t think I quite understand: why the apparent urge to either legislate or constitutionally enshrine someone’s particular version of morality? I can easily understand that not all men wish to marry other men, but I wonder why that’s simply not left to personal choice? I made the heterosexual choice without difficulty, actually, but I cannot for the life of me understand why it’s important that anyone be told any given choice is right or wrong. My advice is that if you’re a man and don’t want to marry a man, then don’t; likewise, if you’re a woman who doesn’t want to marry a woman, then don’t. And if you’re a man who doesn’t want to marry a woman, don’t, and v.v. How hard can it be to grasp?

Likewise abortion — if a woman doesn’t want an abortion, she surely shouldn’t have one forced on her; nor, if she deems it appropriate, should she be denied. As with marriage, no one is forcing anyone to do anything, it’s a matter of personal choice, of personal responsibility. Isn’t that enough? Do we really need a Constitutional amendment to help keep things straight?

As with embryonic stem cell research — if it offends, don’t get involved. And if it offends, then even those offended, should they come down with a disease made curable via embryonic stem cells, have every right to refuse the cure.

A long time ago someone wrote about what many seem to believe to be the eternal gravity of the moral arguments, the gravitas, if you will. “Gravitas,” they wrote, is “the heavy tread of moral earnestness [which] becomes a bore if it is not accompanied by the light step of intelligence.”

Those must have been the good old days when ‘moral earnestness’ only qualified as being a ‘bore’ and not a threat to the First amendment!

But the bottom line, really, is that it’s precisely these completely illogical arguments which apparently swung attentions away from the *real* issues of the environment, the economy and the impact of deficits and tax cuts thereupon, the war in Iraq with its demonstrably false original premises plus the incredible mismanagement thereof virtually since day one, the domestic health care crisis, ad ad ad ad ad infinitum/nauseam. In other words, the apparent “swing” votes, i.e. the votes upon which the election turned, were offered based on what the pundits have called “moral values.” In other words, it’s not immoral to preemptively invade a country, destroy its cities, allow its museums and ammo dumps to be looted, and in the process kill or force the deaths of an estimated 100,000 people — but to allow two people who love each other the privilege of a legal union, NEVER! To insist that science research the potential benefits of embryonic stem cell derivatives, NEVER! To “pray” for the return of those more sane times when abortions were carried out in back alleys rather than hospitals or clinics, YEEHAW!

I freely admit that I see the Bible as being an authority on nothing at all, but once again it’s surely not my decision as to how someone else might feel about that same book.

On the other hand, sometimes I do wonder how the moralists among us might feel were the pendulum to swing to its opposite margin, and there soon appeared proposals afoot and legislation pending that would disallow any and all public displays and utterances of Biblical concepts, that churches would be taxed exactly the same as any other business or corporation, depending on size and income etc., that the only legal place to pray would be — staying with Biblical principle — in one’s own closet.

That’s not likely to ever occur, of course, but it is something to ponder in the sense that were any ‘assault’ on religion ever to be proposed, even indirect in the forms of public prohibitions or taxation, it would immediately bring forward cries of Constitutional violation, and more. Yet, here we are in a situation where religious leaders and their respective flocks not only demand the imposition of religion-based laws, but also maintain that their “religious liberty” allows them the privilege of imposing their beliefs on everyone else. It’s also well and proper to rewrite  public school science textbooks as a means to substitute Biblical creationism for legitimate and well-researched scientific theory.

I propose that something is very much awry with the situation as it now stands, and the likelihood is virtually a 100% certainty that it will get worse before (if ever) corrective measures are applied.

Meanwhile, there have been calls from leaders of both sides to reconcile our differences, to get on with solving problems instead. But how can that be, when a foundational portion of one side’s program is little more than a direct (and currently irrevocable, or so it seems) slap in the face of the other side(s) of the issue?

I’d like to see this nation get on with business as well as the next man, but am NOT willing to rent out the basement of the hen house to the foxes. Personally, I’d happily settle for the sort of true church-state separation as specified in Article I of the Bill of Rights: Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof . . . , but am not optimistic at all that such will prove the case ever again in my lifetime.

No matter how much times change, the more they remain the same. Or maybe “people” should be substituted for ‘times’?

******

Speaking of eating “on the insane root that takes the reason prisoner” — back to the present. Here are a small handful of links which point to topics and events that highlight tidbits of today’s political and religious silliness. They’re but a tiny part of the overall, of course, and they don’t reveal any more crazy than we’re already well aware of, but still . . . well, you know. 😯

Duck Dynasty Star Stumps For Ted Cruz: We Must ‘Rid The Earth’ Of Marriage Equality Supporters

“Either it’s the wildest coincidence ever that horrible diseases follow immoral conduct, or, it’s God saying, ‘There’s a penalty for that kind of conduct.’ I’m leaning towards there’s a penalty for it.” (Phil Robertson)

“I am thrilled to have Phil’s support for our campaign. The Robertsons are a strong family of great Christian faith and conservative values.” (Ted Cruz)

‘Here am I Lord, use me’: Ted Cruz’s dad says Holy Ghost authorized White House run

“It was as if there was a presence of the Holy Spirit in the room and we all were at awe, and Ted, all that came out of his mouth, he said, ‘Here am I Lord, use me. Here am I Lord, I surrender to whatever Your will for my life is.’ And it was at that time that he felt a peace about running for president of the United States.” (Rafael Cruz)

As for the oft-shouted desire for complete “RELIGIOUS FREEDOM!” — it quite obviously is not deemed by America’s political far-right movement to apply uniformly to all religions, to all “beliefs” (including non-belief) that citizens of America might consider their own . . .

The (Conservative) Smear Campaign Against The Mosque Obama Visited

[S]ince last Friday, conservative outlets such as Fox News, the Daily Caller, Breitbart News, and the Washington Times have all rushed to deride Obama’s visit, most accusing the Islamic Society of Baltimore of having “historic” or “deep” ties to extremism or “radical Islam.” Herman Cain told Fox News that the visit amounted to Obama “want[ing] to go kissy kissy with the Muslim Brotherhood” . . .

Apparently what seemed to be the obvious conclusion a dozen years ago still applies:

No matter how much times (and people) change, the more they remain the same.

******

“And thereby hangs a tale.”
(Wm. Shakespeare)

OPEN THREAD

 

 

The Watering Hole; (Friday) September Eleventh (2015); WAR

One wearies of incessant Voice of War.
Across full breadth of time each nom de guerre
Inflicts upon the Human soul a scar
Which screams in mockery of hallowed prayer.
How many millions must we finally kill
Before is learned this simple quirk of fate:
That murdered dead, in valley or on hill,
Do NOT portend a Greatness in The State?
Upon this Earth of monuments and tombs
Which weep for fallen souls, it’s fair to shout
NO MORE! to darkness that forever looms
In constant threat. And let there be no doubt
Of this–War’s victims hang upon the Cross
Of senseless death as silent, wretched, loss.

Fourteen years ago today was THAT day, September 11, 2001, yet one more “date which shall live in inf . . . ” etc. It was clearly devastating for so many — victims, families of victims, friends, co-workers — each and all now become “Collateral Damage” as they’re often called by politicians, by militarists. I’m not at all sure there is, anywhere, an accurate count of all the ‘collateral damage’ since 9-11, the event which spawned wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, and today in Syria and Iraq. The fact remains, however, that in war — ANY war — each and every ‘Senseless death,’ represents a silent, wretched, loss.’

Below are a couple of photos that I received via email in the aftermath. They (sort of) tell at least a small part of the 9-11 story.

mdf51247tragedy-greatpictureThe 9-11 attacks were, indeed, horrible and devastating acts of war. What seems even worse than the actual 9-11 incident, however, is the collective impact of events which followed,  including those two wars — one still underway nearly fourteen years later, the other now formally ended, but stll a tragic mistake from day one — which have collectively led to such disasters as ISIL’s Phoenix-like rise from the ashes (and the resultant refugee “crisis” in Europe), and perhaps also an acceleration of Iran’s nuclear quest.

And what benefit has either side gained from their brutal conflict? The answer is a simple one: Beyond mutual horror and destruction, NOTHING.

But still we must grieve, and rightly so, over the impact on the true victims, the innocent people who are caught in the maelstrom. Rarely, in fact, are the tyrants — those foolish mental fossils who initiate each casus belli — among the victims. More commonly, the victims are those who either volunteer or are conscripted to become fighters, and always in the company of tens or hundreds of thousands of innocent men, women, and children killed by bombs, or gunfire, or inferno: those innocent dead called “collateral damage — or, in the Julian Assange/Wikileaks Iraq war vernacular, Collateral Murder. .

As someone once pointed out, the rules of war are quite simple. Rule Number One is that in war, innocent people die. Rule Number Two is that no one can do anything to change Rule Number One. I imagine if someone could somehow concoct a ‘no more war’ option . . . nah, not possible. War is cool. Lots of money in it. And kingdom! And power! And glory!! Forever and ever!!! . . . etc.

We cannot stop war, nor can we prevent the next one. But we can, at least, remember the innocent victims of each and every war. It is to them and to their families, friends, and loved ones, that I offer the following:

IN MEMORIAM
of those who died before their time
unforgotten

One wonders if they ever heard the cry.
The sound, the summons, which to faithful says:
Your God has called, your time is come to die
And travel on – conclusion of your days
On earth, the end of all familiar things –
Your Lives, your Loves, interred now, sans the pain
Inflicted by ungodly bands of kings
Who find their purpose in despotic shame.

So now all living walk upon a cache –
Abysmal graveyards – globally extant,
Concealing flesh and bone returned to ash
From which it came. Tears want to flow, but can’t
As souls of murdered dead now roam – set free –
And living close their eyes: Afraid to see.

May we never forget their sacrifice.

OPEN THREAD

The Watering Hole; Thursday September 18 2014; MORE WAR MORE WAR MORE WAR YAY YAY YAY!!

OH NOES!! WE’LL ALL BE DEAD!!!

Senator Lindsay Graham: ‘We All Get Killed Back Here At Home’ If Obama Doesn’t Send Combat Troops Back Into Iraq

Fortunately, there’s a solution (if only that worthless Obama dude would get off his duff and DO SOMETHING!):

Bill O’Reilly Wants President Obama And Congress To Declare War Against Islamic Terrorists

So, here we go. Everybody’s after us. First there’re all those illegal children from Central America, and don’t forget those Dream Act bums along with the other ten million or more illegals that are here on welfare and Medicaid and Social Security, milking the Amurkan Cow instead of working for a living. And now we got Muslims sneaking across the Texican Border leaving behind their Qurans and prayer rugs, on their way to git us all!

Texas Sheriff Claims ‘Quran Books’ Found At Mexican Border May Mean ISIS Infiltration

LOOK! UP IN THE SKY! IT’S A BIRD! IT’S A PLANE! NO, IT’S AN ISIS!!

I’ve been trying to remember when it was that I first heard about those new kids on the block — ISIS, ISIL, however those goofy letters them Muslims use is translated into Amurkan. When was it? Was it last month? Last week, maybe? And all of a sudden we’re gonna “all get killed back here at home” by those Muslim terroristas that’re sneakin’ across the border (probably into that new Organ Mountains National Monument that Obama set up jes’ fer them terrist bums to hide their A-bomb in!) all-the-while all our gummint libtards do is sit around shriekin’ about some dead kid in Missouri!

And so it goes. Dreams of more war; DEMANDS for more war. Why?? Cuz there’s money in it! Need an enemy? We got ’em. EVERYWHERE!! So let’s Declare WAR!!

What could go wrong?

Actually (and pardon the interrupt, but) I have a better idea. If there’s to be a war, why not engage our REAL enemy? It’s not like it’s one that popped up ‘over there’ last week or month. Nope, it’s one that’s been around for a good long time now, one that’s gotten ever more refined as the decades have passed.

Wait. Decades? Really?

Yep. On April 9, 1944, at the height of the war against the Axis powers of Germany and Japan, U.S. Vice President Henry Wallace described America’s domestic enemies in an article published in the New York Times on April 9, 1944. In Wallace’s own words,

“They claim to be super-patriots, but they would destroy every liberty guaranteed by the Constitution. They demand free enterprise, but are the spokesmen for monopoly and vested interest. Their final objective toward which all their deceit is directed is to capture political power so that, using the power of the state and the power of the market simultaneously, they may keep the common man in eternal subjection.”

Sound at all familiar? Here’s a more detailed description, one that was written by political scientist Dr. Lawrence W. Britt and published in the July 2004 Free Inquiry magazine, Volume 23, Number 2, available online here. Britt details the traits of that which is steadily proving itself to be Constitutional America’s most dangerous and determined enemy, listed here in brief summary:

1. Powerful and Continuing Nationalism
2. Disdain for the Recognition of Human Rights
3. Identification of Enemies/Scapegoats as a Unifying Cause
4. Supremacy of the Military
5. Rampant Sexism
6. Controlled Mass Media
7. Obsession with National Security
8. Religion and Government are Intertwined
9. Corporate Power is Protected
10. Labor Power is Suppressed
11. Disdain for Intellectuals and the Arts
12. Obsession with Crime and Punishment
13. Rampant Cronyism and Corruption
14. Fraudulent Elections

ISIS / ISIL??

Nah. It’s much closer to home. We seem to know “it” as the G.O.P and/or its Tea Party offshoot, together defining what I’ve come to call the American Fascist Movement, the AFM.

Curiously enough, I finally (and for the first time ever, far as I can recall) can say that I find myself in at least partial agreement with both Lindsay Graham AND Bill O’Reilly. The danger to our Republic truly IS here Here At Home, and it’s high time that We the People find the means to Declare War Against our enemy — before we are, each and all, forced to kneel before our would-be corporate and religious masters. And we all know who they are.

OPEN THREAD

Memorial Day, May 26th, 2014

World War I Memorial, Washington, DC

na-WWI-Memorial

World War II Memorials, Washington, DC
ww2memorialDC
ww2 marines-memorialpacific atlantic ww2

Korean War Memorials, Washington, DC
washington-dc-korean-war-veterans-memorialKorean-WarKorean War Memorial in the Snow 04

Vietnam War Memorials, Washington, DC
vietnam-memorial-three-soldiersvietnam-war-nurses-memorialvietnam-veterans-memorial-washington-dc-ilker-goksen

Tomb of the Unknown
an american soldier

Iraq War Memorial, Washington, DC

?

Afghanistan War Memorial, Washington, DC

?

Open thread–have at it!

The Watering Hole, Friday May 3 2013; From “Satan’s Chamber” to . . . ?

From EMERALDS and ASHES, Part I: KRIEG in EUROPE; poem number six . . .

SATAN’S CHAMBER

they were coming from all directions
battle fronts collapsed on the fatherland
as if a monstrous pincer
bombs fell
gunfire rumbled over
cyrillic voices on the streets of
berlin
the chancellery – tabernacle of the third reich –
und auch der vaterland
now burning rubble
Götterdämmerung
at last
the closing of the ring

in a catacomb deep beneath the tabernacle
– deutschland unter alles –
ceremonies of highest import began
shicklgruber and mistress eva
became united in bond of holy matrimony
even as they prepared themselves
für das ende

one wonders if they dined
or kissed
or made love
or blissfully recalled halcyon days
before commenced their cowards’ finis
cyanide and gunshot
followed by the darkness of their private journey
to satan’s chamber

one wonders if they ever heard
the sobbings of murdered millions
as they made transit to demonic reichstag
to meet their own
deserved
Final Solution
schicklgruber
hitler
bastard
monster
burn in hell and write from there
the final chapter of your gruesome
kampf

remember
arbeit macht frei.

Sixty-eight years ago today marked the approximate center of an historic two week span of time that effectively began on April 27, 1945, when Benito Mussolini was captured while apparently trying to either go into hiding or escape Italy; on April 28, he was executed. In the early morning hours of April 29, Adolf Hitler and Eva Braun were married by a local magistrate in the Führerbunker deep beneath the German Chancellery in Berlin; the next day, April 30 at around 3:30 PM, they committed suicide together in their quarters in that same underground bunker. Braun took a cyanide capsule, but Hitler, in order to make absolute certain there was zero chance he might somehow survive to face the consequences of allied capture, shot himself in the head; their bodies were removed from the Führerbunker, and were, according to instruction, burned to ash in the garden behind the Reich Chancellery. On May 1, Hitler’s newly-appointed Reichskanzler Herr Dr. Joseph Göbbels together with his wife Magda — after murdering each and all of their six children — also committed suicide. On May 2, Berlin fell to the invading Russian Army under the command of General Vasily Chuikov. On May 4, German forces in northwestern Germany, Denmark, and the Netherlands surrendered to British Field Marshall Montgomery, and all German forces in Bavaria surrendered to the American Sixth Army under the command of General J.L. Devers. On May 5, Admiral  Dönitz ordered all U-Boats to return to their bases; on May 6, Hitler’s (former) second in command Hermann Göring along with his wife and daughter were captured at the German-Austrian border and taken into custody by US General Spaatz, commander of all US air forces in the European theater. On May 8, all German forces occupying the British Channel Islands surrendered, and finally, the Chief-of-Staff of the German Armed Forces High Command, General Alfred Jodl signed the unconditional surrender document demanded by Supreme Allied Commander, General Dwight D. Eisenhower, in which it was specified that: “All forces under German control [will] cease active operations at 2301 hours Central European Time on May 8, 1945.” Thus, the ‘Thousand Year Reich’ came to an abrupt end exactly twelve years, three months, and 9 days following Adolf Hitler’s ascension to full power of the state on January 30, 1933. The war in Europe was over; the Allies were victorious.

No one really knows exactly how many people died in Europe over that twelve year span, but the numbers are without doubt horrendous. Estimates of the Holocaust alone suggest that at least 11 million were murdered in the Nazi extermination camps, including some six million Jews, including more than a million children. One can only try to ponder the motivations underlying such policy and behaviors and then ask the burning questions: could it all ever happen again? What level of insanity does it take to drive a nation to murder and then incinerate the bodies of more than a million children over the course of only six or seven years? And what is the source of such insanity? Hatred? Fear? Lust of Power? What possible gains can such atrocity offer?

Makes one wonder, too, just what the (alleged) Great God in Heaven was doing during that span of time. Again from Emeralds and Ashes, a final thought as expressed in Part I, poem seven:

FROM THE ASHES: A Letter to God

Not satisfied to ape the Great
In His simplicity
The small must die, as well as He –
Oh the Audacity –
(Emily Dickinson)

Spring, 1945
Dear God,

My name is Anna.  I was eleven
years old when they came to take me and my
parents and my brother Louis.  We rode
in a train, in a car made for cattle.
It was very crowded and people got
very sick.  We had hardly any food
or water, and it was cold.  Every time
the train stopped there were Germans and snarling
dogs.  It was scary.  Mama was sick when
we left Belgium, and when I woke up on
the third day it looked like she was sleeping.
But in a town in Germany, they pulled
her out of the train and threw her on a
cart.  I think she was dead.  God, where is she?
Where is mama?  Is she in heaven with You?

The train went through some snowy mountains, and
it was very pretty to see the trees.
I remembered when I’d played in the snow,
but now I was cold. There was no furnace
in the car, but there was an opening
where the cold wind always blew in, and the
drinking water froze, and I got thirsty
and I got hungry too.  My papa held
me and Louis.  Papa had a big coat,
and it was warm in it next to him.  But
we were all real scared and we all prayed
to you.  We prayed Hear O’ Israel the Lord
our God,  the Lord is one.  Did You hear us?

The train stopped at a place in Poland called
Auschwitz.  We had to get out.  It was cold
there, and there were dogs.  Nasty dogs that growled
all the time and showed their teeth.  And there were
soldiers.  The soldiers were not very nice.
They kept hitting people from the train with
clubs, and we had to all get into lines.
I cried when my papa had to get in
a different line.  Louis cried too.  We
never saw papa again.  God, where is
papa?  Is papa in heaven with You?

We had to go into a building.  The
soldiers kept hitting people.  They hit Louis
with a club and made his head bleed.  He cried
and so did I.  Then they made us all get
undressed.  I didn’t like that because there were
so many people.  Everyone was told
to take a shower, but there wasn’t room for
the children in the shower, and the guards
took us to another place.  There were lots
of furnaces there, and it was hot and
scary.  There were soldiers with guns, and men
in striped suits.  One of them took Louis and
whispered something to him.  Then he hit him
on the head with a club and threw him in
the furnace.  God, where is Louis?  Is he
in heaven with You?  Please, God, please tell me.

Then a man in a striped suit grabbed me and
whispered something to me.  He said,  Hear O’
Israel the Lord our God,  the Lord is one,
and I thought of my papa.  The man tried
to hit me with his club, but a soldier
aimed at him with a gun and he threw me
into the fire.  And it hurt, God, it hurt
a lot.  And I screamed but no one listened.
I got burned alive, God.  Why didn’t You help?
Did I do something to make You angry?

And then they took all of our ashes and
loaded them into a truck.  They dumped us
into a big river, and we floated
away.  And it was cold again, terribly
cold like on the train.  And it was so dark.
God, where am I?  Where are we?  Are we with
You, God?  Where are You?  Where were You?  Please God –
Say something to me.  Anything.
Please?

Shalom
Anna

She awaits an answer.

It’s fair, I suppose, to ponder once again those dark and dismal events that took place in Europe during the Second World War; it’s probably also fair to continue to celebrate — or at least reflect upon the consequences of May 8, 1945 — soon to be a full sixty-eight years in the past. Victory In Europe Day . . . V.E. Day . . . a hoped-for turning point in humanity’s earthly presence. But was it really a turning point, or have we as a species simply paused yet one more time in our apparent quest for the perfect atrocity? How far removed are we, this very day, from events potentially even more heinous and destructive than the Holocaust? . . . than the full and complete breadth of the Second World War? Some say that as many as fifty million died, collectively, in all the theaters of that war . . . a mere pittance when compared with the potential death toll of a global conflagration today. Or maybe we’re safer, today, because of huge strides in human compassion, in human sanity?

A quick glance in almost any direction suggests we’d best not hold our breath in hopeful anticipation as we . . . await an answer.

This is Today’s Open Thread. Reflect. Speak Out.