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.

The Watering Hole: Thursday, March 7, 2013, Report Shows Billions Wasted in Iraq & Afghanistan

Military Spending Waste: Up To $60 Billion In Iraq, Afghanistan War Funds Lost To Poor Planning, Oversight, Fraud

As much as $60 billion in U.S. funds has been lost to waste and fraud in Iraq and Afghanistan over the past decade through lax oversight of contractors, poor planning and payoffs to warlords and insurgents, an independent panel investigating U.S. wartime spending estimates.

U.S. Wasted Billions Rebuilding Iraq

As the 10th anniversary of President George W. Bush’s invasion of Iraq approaches, the body charged with overseeing Iraq’s reconstruction has issued its final report, capping a tale of spending far too much money for very little results.

There is much more at the two links above.  The question is how will this all turn out to be President Obama’s fault?  George W. Bush stopped being responsible for anything the day President Obama was inaugurated in 2009 according to the GOP.

THIS IS TODAY’S OPEN THREAD.  GO AHEAD AND VENT.

To Know War Is To Know Madness In This World – President Lyndon B. Johnson

I posted this yesterday on Pennsylvania for Change.

Chuck Hagel served in this war.  So did John Kerry.  Yet the yellow elephants that got deferments find fault with these warriors.

Here’s a few cowards that were unwilling to serve or made sure that they didn’t have to fight:

  • George W. Bush – remained in the States
  • Ted Nugent
  • Rush Limbaugh
  • Donald Rumsfeld
  • Dick Cheney
  • Mitt Romney

They wear flag pins and called themselves patriots.  Yet when ‘Uncle Sam’ called them to serve, they found ways to get out of fighting in a war.   I’m sure there are more names to add to this list.

Let’s take a look at this war…

We fight differently these days.  Now the drones fly over our ‘enemies’ and someone thousands of miles away gives the command to fire off the smart bomb.   Without the close contact, our enemies are faceless and their deaths have less of an emotional impact on us.

I once had a soldier tell me that firing a gun at someone that is 100 yards away isn’t that difficult.  Killing someone with a knife is hard to do because it is up close and personal.  It’s hard to kill someone when you are looking in their eyes.

There’s no two ways about it.  War sucks.

Playing for Change:

Give me love my brother, give me love my sister, it’s just a kiss away.

The Death of a Nation (a retrospective on the W. Bush era, Part 6: MILITARY)

The essay which follows was written in March, 2005, and remains, (admittedly) at best, a superficial overview: a (potentially futile) attempt to at least suggest that the aggressive militarism of the United States which bubbled to the surface quite rapidly in G.W. Bush’s first term was not only bad, but dangerous as well.  Sadly, to this day the war horror of that period continues with the USA still involved in what has now become the longest war in America’s insanely war-stained history: the war in Afghanistan.

Military. War. During my lifetime, the ‘known’ wars and (aggressive) “skirmishes” with American participation include (but are in no way presumed, herein, to be limited to): the Second World War; Korea; Cuba; Vietnam; Chile; Grenada; El Salvador; Panama; Bosnia/Herzegovina; the Persian Gulf; Afghanistan; Iraq; and now (potentially) Libya, Syria, Iran . . . et al., et al.

(Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, Part 4, Part 5)

War.

The Incessant Voice of 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 . . . in silent, wretched, loss.

So, whereto from here? More of the same? Are ‘we’ inextricably embedded in the muck and mire of incessant war? A look back at the policies and products of the George W. Bush presidencies is not, necessarily, encouraging. Nor is the prospect of yet another right wing Republican presence in either the Congress or, most emphatically, in the White House; e.g. Romney-Ryan. Time will tell . . . apparently. In its invariably nerve-wracking fashion.

**********

Military:

“Every gun that is made, every warship launched, every rocket fired signifies in the final sense, a theft from those who hunger and are not fed, those who are cold and are not clothed. This world in arms is not spending money alone. It is spending the sweat of its laborers, the genius of its scientists, the hopes of its children. This is not a way of life at all in any true sense. Under the clouds of war, it is humanity hanging on a cross of iron.”  ~Dwight D. Eisenhower

I include that quote not because Eisenhower was the Five-Star General who commanded the allied forces to victory in Europe during the Second World War; not because he, as President (note the use of upper case) made good on his pledge to go to Korea following his election in 1952 to find a way to stop hostilities there, and that on July 27, 1953 an armistice was signed; not because President Eisenhower, once he’d had enough of Sen. Joseph McCarthy and his bogus ‘hearings’ in search of Communists behind every tree, found a way to put a stop to the nonsense and send McCarthy back into his hole; and not because Eisenhower was a Republican who won two elections with landslide margins.  No, I include that quote in order to point to the contrasts between then and today, only fifty years apart.

Dwight D. Eisenhower was a West Pointer, a bold yet measured military man who commanded the allied forces that smashed the Nazi war machine.  He was also a firm negotiator who understood and realized the stupidity that drives men constantly to war; he was, too, a Republican. Continue reading

The Watering Hole, Thursday, July 19th, 2012: Hayden’s Planet-Scarium

Who knew that Newsmax has its own foreign intelligence branch? Well, they do, and it’s called called ‘Langley Intelligence Group Network’, or NAMBLA LIGNET. A quick glance at their website’s header is, well, illuminating? disturbing?

Wayne was the lucky recipient of a Newsmax/LIGNET email entitled “Iran Crisis Gets ‘Scarier,’ Fmr. CIA Director Warns – Join Exclusive Briefing Here’s an excerpt from the email:

Fmr. CIA Director Hayden: Iran Nuclear Crisis Gets ‘Scarier’

Former CIA Director General Michael Hayden delivered a disturbing message during a LIGNET intelligence panel discussion on the serious threat a nuclear Iran poses to the United States.

“Every time you turn the page, it gets scarier,” the former CIA director said during the exclusive briefing provided by LIGNET, Newsmax’s new global intelligence and forecasting online service.

Amid intelligence reports suggesting that Israel may be striking Iran soon — and that U.S. forces are increasing in the region — the LIGNET Iran Crisis Briefing uncovered what lies ahead for Israel, the U.S. and the implications for the world economy.

This briefing has just been completed and you can access the latest, best available information on this subject.

Joining Gen. Hayden for the online briefing were Arnaud de Borchgrave, famed journalist and a global threat expert with the Center for Strategic International Studies (CSIS), and former CIA senior analyst and LIGNET managing editor Fred Fleitz… [Note: Click on the CSIS link and check out the ‘Trustees’ section to find few interesting names on their list.]

De Borchgrave offered a dire prediction when asked how oil prices will be affected by an attack on Iran, which has already threatened to close the Strait of Hormuz, a vital oil shipping channel.

And Fleitz says diplomacy is no longer an option. He says negotiations over Iran’s nuclear program are “in trouble” with “no prospect for breakthrough” and Iran “wants to wipe Israel off the face of the earth.”

Other topics addressed during the online event included:
-What is the full extent of Iran’s nuclear program
-The reason the U.S. must make it clear “we hold escalation dominance”
-How soon could Iran have a nuclear weapon
-Iran’s policy to facilitate the killing of Americans in Iraq and Afghanistan
-Will President Obama accept a nuclear Iran
-Iran’s close link to Hezbollah
-When will Israel launch an airstrike on Iran
-Iran’s support of the Syrian regime and its brutal crackdown on rebels
-A nuclear Iran leaves the world hostage to terror
-How would Iran retaliate to an Israeli strike
-Would such a response include biological, chemical or even “dirty” nuclear bombs
-What are the chances Iran will make a pre-emptive strike against the U.S.
-What are the implications for the dollar, the euro, and gold
And more
If you missed this URGENT online briefing on a nuclear Iran, you can still see re-broadcasts of this cutting-edge information

Yeah, but you have to pay $1 and get a ‘trial membership’ in LIGNET before you can get this URGENT information! However, “Once you join LIGNET for ONLY $1.00, you immediately become part of an exclusive network of global readers who are seeking the best available, actionable intelligence from some of the best informed people on the planet.” [emphasis mine]

Let’s take a brief look at some of the folks involved in LIGNET: a few of their “Advisory Board Members” are:

General Michael V. Hayden, USAF (ret.): Former director of the National Security Agency (NSA) and former CIA Director, under whose watch we became familiar with the terms “warrantless wiretapping” and “Extraordinary Rendition.”

Lord William Rees-Mogg: “Former editor of the Times of London and …former chairman of Newsmax Media’s Board of Directors.”

Ambassador John Bolton: (Well, we ALL know his past.) “Currently Senior Fellow, American Enterprise Institute and Fox News contributor.”

Jeremy Bradshaw: “Attorney, banker, and Newsmax contributor. Chairman of the London think tank, the Britain Club. He currently is Director of the London-based Argo Capital Management hedge fund.”

Arnaud DeBorchgrave: DeBorchgrave’s career as a journalist ranged from interviews with world leaders as correspondent for Newsweek, to CEO of UPI until he helped sell UPI to AP. According to Wikipedia, he “…played a key role in the sale of the further downsized UPI to News World Communications, the international news media company founded in 1976 by Unification Church leader Sun Myung Moon, who was also the founder of The Washington Times for which de Borchgrave had worked earlier. After his CEO turn at UPI, de Borchgrave retained associations with both Unification Church media outlets, as “Editor-at-Large” of The Washington Times and UPI, writing regular columns published by either or both.” Wiki also mentions that DeBorchgrave had had questions of plagiarism raised regarding his columns.

Congressman Peter Hoekstra: “Former member of Congress and Chairman, House Intelligence Committee.” Not enough space for a complete summary of Pete Hoekstra’s record.

Some of LIGNET’s “Analysis Team”:

Frederick Fleitz, Managing Editor: Under President George W. Bush, “…Mr. Fleitz served as chief of staff to John Bolton, then Under Secretary of State for Arms Control and International Security. In 2006, Mr. Fleitz became a professional staff member with the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence, acting as a senior advisor to Rep. Peter Hoekstra, the committee chairman.”

Mark A. Groombridge, Deputy Editor: “Dr. Groombridge was a research scholar at both the Cato Institute and the American Enterprise Institute.”

David Wurmser, Senior Analyst: “From 2003 to 2007, Dr. Wurmser served as the senior advisor to Vice President Cheney on the Middle East. From 2002 to 2003, Dr. Wurmser was a senior advisor to Under Secretary of State John Bolton. Before entering government, Dr. Wurmser founded the Middle East studies program at the American Enterprise Institute.”

One article on LIGNET’s website titled “Iran Ballistic Missile Program Continues” states:

“An annual report [unclassified excerpt] issued this week on Iranian military power by the U.S. Department of Defense concludes that Iran has been making considerable strides in improving the accuracy of its long-range missiles . . . according to the report, there has been no change to Iran’s strategies over the last year and Tehran is still focused on challenging U.S. influence while developing domestic capabilities to become the dominant player in the Middle East . . . the report concludes that Iran could flight-test an intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) before 2016 and can now fire multiple missiles within second, creating a challenge for US and Israeli missile defense . . . Iran’s Shahab-3 missile can hit targets throughout the Middle East and the report says this missile’s range is being extended . . . this report shows the growing regional threat by Iran and is certain to further drive tensions . . . it also points to new threats to Israeli security from Iranian missiles.”

(sigh) And the Iran Warmongering beat goes on…

This is our daily open thread — what’s on YOUR mind today?

The Watering Hole: Wednesday, June 20, 2012: Does it really Matter?

Ok, so for the next few months, if you’re in a “swing” State, you’ll be inundated with SuperPAC commercials designed to get you to vote against your own best interests. We will also be systematically bombarded with messages from the Mainstream Media designed to influence our thinking.

IT’S ALL A SHOW. IT REALLY DOESN’T MATTER.

If the Powers That Be really want Obama out, all they have to do is raise gas prices to about $5.00/gallon. Instead, gas prices are going down, heading into the summer vacation season. That’s not to say they won’t go up between now and the election – but they are an accurate predictor of where our economy will head. So, pay attention to the pump, not the talking heads.

Ok, that’s my $0.0199 cents. And you?

OPEN THREAD
JUST REMEMBER
EVERYTHING I SAID
DOESN’T REALLY MATTER

 

The Watering Hole, Monday, May 28th, 2012: Memorial Day


When I was younger, and my parents and relatives got together, they would often refer to various brothers, uncles, cousins, friends and neighbors who were “lost in The War.” “The War”, of course, meant World War II. Back then, most of the names mentioned in those conversations had little meaning to me: I had never met them; they had died before I was born; and, while I had heard of “World War II”, I had no inkling of its scale, its horrors, or its impact on the world, the country, and on my family.

Dad (Stephen R. Sechny) in uniform


My dad served in the Navy during The War, but he never served overseas. I don’t know (he never said) why this was so; his role in The War was as secretary/chauffeur/aide to the bigwigs stateside. I am ashamed to say that none of us kids never really asked, as dad tended to tell long, drawn-out stories, drifting off onto tangents so often that we usually lost interest or lost track at some point.

Speaking of going off on tangents, yesterday’s “UP with Chris Hayes” had several segments that should be revisited today. Unfortunately, I could not figure out how to embed the videos, so here’s the link. I highly recommend watching the first three segments.

This is our daily open thread — share your thoughts on today’s topic, or discuss what you want to.

The Watering Hole, Thursday, March 15th, 2012: Who Said What?

You never know what you’re going to find at Foreign Policy magazine online. Recent issues contained two items which I decided to use for today’s offering: one somewhat humorous, one not so much.

The ‘somewhat humorous’ one is a fairly new feature at FP, entitled “Who Said It?” This particular version is “Grand Ayatollah or Grand Old Party?”, by Reza Aslan, who opens the article with:

“One is a religious fanatic railing against secularism, the role of women in the workplace, and the evils of higher education, as he seeks to impose his draconian moral values upon the state. The other is the supreme leader of the Islamic Republic of Iran.”

Rick Santorum

Grand Ayatollah Khamenei of Iran

Aslan’s quiz lists nine quotes, asking “Who Said It?”, Santorum or Khamenei. The answer is given on the next page within the article, where the subsequent quote is then listed. See how you do in this quiz!

The second article, the ‘not so humorous’ one, is by Stephen M. Walt, and lists the “Top Ten Media Failures in the Iran War Debate.” A few key observations by Mr. Walt, although by no means the most important or insightful ones in his article, include:

“…when prominent media organizations keep publishing alarmist pieces about how war is imminent, likely, inevitable, etc., this may convince the public that it is going to happen sooner or later and it discourages people from looking for better alternatives.”

and

“A recurring feature of Iran war coverage has been tendency to refer to Iran’s “nuclear weapons program” as if its existence were an established fact. U.S. intelligence services still believe that Iran does not have an active program, and the IAEA has also declined to render that judgment either.”

Mr. Walt’s article is yet another illustration of the deficiencies of today’s ‘mainstream media’, which has, for quite some time, deplorably failed to serve or inform the public. 😦

This is our daily open thread — so, what’s on your mind?

The Watering Hole, Thursday, March 1st, 2012: And Your Advice is Worth???

I like to check out Foreign Policy Magazine online now and again for different stories and viewpoints. You can imagine my surprise today when I saw an article titled “How to Beat Obama”, written by…wait for it…Karl Rove and Ed Gillespie. Yes, Karl Rove, despite being wrong nearly as often as William Kristol, still thinks that his advice would be helpful to the 2012 Republican Presidential nominee. Check out some of the pearls of wisdom Karl and Ed are offering:

“In an American election focused on a lousy economy and high unemployment, conventional wisdom holds that foreign policy is one of Barack Obama’s few strong suits. But the president is strikingly vulnerable in this area. The Republican who leads the GOP ticket can attack him on what Obama mistakenly thinks is his major strength by translating the center-right critique of his foreign policy into campaign themes and action. Here’s how to beat him.

First, the Republican nominee should adopt a confident, nationalist tone emphasizing American exceptionalism, expressing pride in the United States as a force for good in the world, and advocating for an America that is once again respected (and, in some quarters, feared) as the preeminent global power. Obama acts as if he sees the United States as a flawed giant, a mistake that voters already perceive. After all, this is the president who said, “I believe in American exceptionalism, just as I suspect that the Brits believe in British exceptionalism and the Greeks believe in Greek exceptionalism.” Voters also sense he is content to manage America’s decline to a status where the United States is just one country among many.”

Ah, yes, the “American Exceptionalism” cliche – Americans are somehow inherently better than the rest of the world, and we damn well don’t need to pay attention to any of those lesser people in all of those other crappy countries. America is a flawless giant, dammit, and just look at how perceptive American voters are, too!

“The Republican nominee should use the president’s own words and actions to portray him as naive and weak on foreign affairs. Obama’s failed promises, missed opportunities, and erratic shifts suggest he is out of touch and in over his head.”

Karl, do you remember anything of the presidency of George W. Bush, or have you simply blocked it all out?

“The Republican candidate must address at least four vital areas. The most important is the struggle that will define this century’s arc: radical Islamic terrorism. He should make the case that victory must be America’s national goal, not merely seeking to “delegitimize the use of terrorism and to isolate those who carry it out,” as Obama’s May 2010 National Security Strategy put it. As in the Cold War, victory will require sustained U.S. involvement and a willingness to deploy all tools of influence — from diplomacy to economic ties, from intelligence efforts to military action.”

I thought that this 2012 election was all about JOBS, JOBS, JOBS – oh, wait, that was the 2010 mid-terms, or…well some election was/is supposed to be about JOBS…I think.

“Second, the Republican candidate must condemn the president’s precipitous drawdown in Afghanistan and his deep, dangerous defense-budget cuts. Both are viewed skeptically by the military: The former emboldens America’s adversaries and discourages its allies; the latter is of deep concern to veterans and other Americans who doubt Obama’s commitment to the military.”

Jeebus knows that we don’t want to “precipitously” leave Afghanistan after, what, only eleven years or so? And didn’t I hear that President Obama has actually increased the defense budget?

“During the 2008 campaign, he also argued that Iran was a “tiny” country that didn’t “pose a serious threat.” How foolish that now seems.”

“In part because of how he has mishandled the Iranian threat, Obama has lost much political and financial support in the American Jewish community. His approach to Israel must be presented as similarly weak and untrustworthy. The Republican candidate must make clear the existential threat to Israel from a nuclear-armed Iran…”

We certainly wouldn’t want Israel to defend itself all alone, with only a few hundred nuclear weapons, against a possible/future/maybe-nuclear-armed Iran, now would we?

Obama recognizes that he’s seen as “cold and aloof,” and the Republican nominee should hammer this point home. The president has few real friends abroad (excepting, of course, Islamist Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan, as he told Time magazine’s Fareed Zakaria). The Republican nominee should criticize Obama for not understanding that the U.S. president’s personal engagement is essential for effective global leadership. Obama’s lack of regular close contact with Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki and Afghan President Hamid Karzai, which has destroyed relationships with America’s erstwhile allies, is simply the most jarring, inexplicable example of this president’s hands-off approach.

If the Republican candidate turns out to be Mitt Romney, our allies (and enemies, too!) will be SO overwhelmed by the “warm and fuzzies.” So, President Obama hasn’t been calling al-Maliki and Karzai as much as Rove and Gillespie think he should? What are they, Obama’s mother?

“Because the fall campaign must be devoted to promoting the Republican message on jobs and the economy, the GOP nominee must share his big foreign-policy vision no later than early summer.”

“The fourth line of attack must be about America’s fragile economy and how to restore it. Many voters think Obama’s stewardship of the economy has been inconsistent and even counterproductive.”

Of course, talking about jobs and the economy can wait until the fall – it gives the Republican nominee that much more time to think of something other than “cut taxes and regulations for corporations” and “make the Bush tax cuts permanent.”

“Undoubtedly, Obama will attempt to preempt criticism of his foreign policy by repeating endlessly that Osama bin Laden was killed on his watch. By campaign’s end, some voters will wonder whether the president personally delivered the kill shot.”

Yes, undoubtedly, ’cause that’s what Rove and Gillespie would do – it would definitely convince “some voters”, i.e., FuxNews-watchers.

“Absent a major international crisis, this election will be largely about jobs, spending, health care, and energy. Voters do, however, want a president who leads on the world stage and a commander in chief who projects strength, not weakness.”

What the…”absent a major international crisis”? Such as, Karl?

“A November 2011 survey conducted by Resurgent Republic showed that 50 percent of voters (as well as 54 percent of self-identified independents) think America’s standing in the world is worse under Obama, while only 21 percent believe it is better. This represents a sharp drop from April 2010, when 50 percent of voters (and 49 percent of independents) believed Obama had improved America’s standing.

That’s because Obama has failed to become a strong international leader, and the Republican nominee must reinforce this message — one most Americans already believe. Foreign policy is a weakness for this president, not a strength.”

Hey, guess who’s a Board Member at Resurgent Republic? Why, good old Ed Gillespie!

Hmmm, I don’t think that your advice is so hot, Karl (and Ed.) Maybe they should read another article at Foreign Policy magazine that refutes their arguments.

Regardless of whether or not Rove and Gillespie’s advice is useful, I don’t think that either of the current ‘leaders’ for the Republican nomination would be capable of following it.

This is our daily open thread – feel free to opine on this or any other topic.

Sunday Roast: Martin Luther King Jr Day

“Why I Am Opposed to the War in Vietnam”

In the year before his assassination, Dr King began to express his opposition to the United States’ involvement in the Vietnam War.  That opposition cost him support from his white allies, namely President Johnson, union leaders, and print publishers, such as Life and the Washington Post.  It’s all very well and good, until the Black man speaks about more than social injustice.

Dr King, like many people today, would rather have the vast amounts of money expended on a useless war, spent on the social safety net.

“A nation that continues year after year to spend more money on military defense than on programs of social uplift is approaching spiritual death.”

The more things change, the more they stay the same, eh?  Especially for poor Americans.  Things have changed a lot for rich Americans — they’re more obscenely wealthy than ever.

Dr King wrapped up his speech against the Vietnam War as follows:

Now it isn’t easy to stand up for truth and for justice. Sometimes it means being frustrated. When you tell the truth and take a stand, sometimes it means that you will walk the streets with a burdened heart. Sometimes it means losing a job…means being abused and scorned. It may mean having a seven, eight year old child asking a daddy, “Why do you have to go to jail so much?”…

Before the crown we wear, there is the cross that we must bear. Let us bear it — bear it for truth, bear it for justice, and bear it for peace. Let us go out this morning with that determination. And I have not lost faith. I’m not in despair, because I know that there is a moral order…

With this faith we will be able to speed up the day when all over the world we will be able to join hands and sing in the words of the old Negro spiritual, “Free at last! Free at last! Thank God Almighty, we’re free at last!” With this faith, we’ll sing it as we’re getting ready to sing it now. Men will beat their swords into plowshares and their spears into pruning hooks. And nations will not rise up against nations, neither shall they study war anymore. And I don’t know about you, I ain’t gonna study war no more.

Less than a year later, Dr King paid the ultimate price for speaking out, not just against the war, but all manner of social injustice — his life was ended by an assassin’s bullet.

Today, we are at a similar point in history.  Similar injustices are taking place, social and economic; one unjust war is ended, but another rages on.  Although we have come far enough in this country to have elected an African American President, we have not come so far that the vile and ugly racism hidden deep inside so many of us, socially unacceptable for decades, would be prevented from bubbling to the surface, scarring our society like acid burns.  We deal with a shocking redistribution of wealth in this country that divides us — rich vs poor — as much or more than it did 100 years ago.  That redistribution of wealth is from the middle and bottom to the top, but still the wealthy cry that they are victims of “class warfare!”

I imagine Dr King shaking his head in disgust…

This is our daily open thread — What’s on your mind?

The Watering Hole, Thursday, December 22nd: How ‘Bout If We DON’T Bomb Iran

From John McCain’s “Bomb, bomb Iran” (literal) song-and-dance in the 2008 Presidential campaign, through all but one of the current survivors of the Republican Presidential candidates’ gauntlet of debates, Republicans seem to feel that the ultimate answer to any question about Iran is “regime change.” Of course! Look at how well that…er, uh…worked…for us…sigh.

This near-solidarity amongst Republicans begs a couple of questions:

1. Are they crazy?
2. Do they remember anything about Iraq?
3. Are they just trying to demonstrate their ‘testicular fortitude”? Or, in Michele Bachmann’s case, ‘Thatchers’?
4. Are they more afraid of what Iran might do if it acquires a nuke, or of what Israel might do if Iran acquires a nuke?
5. Are they trying to tie up the Jewish vote well in advance?
6. Are they crazy?

As always, Ron Paul is the exception to the “regime change” rule, ergo the war-happy wing of the Republicans cannot back him. The rest of the candidates vary somewhat in their eagerness to resort to what should be the last resort, but they are united in their opposition to Ron Paul’s more isolationist views.

For a more tempered point of view, I found that one or two articles from Foreign Policy magazine served to talk me down for now, at least…but I’m sure that it’s only a temporary surcease from the bombardment of all-too-familiar, “deja-vu-all-over-again” arguments for “regime change” (and all that that implies) in Iran.

I’m as tired of the candidates’ posturing about Iran as I am of the candidates and the endless ‘debates.’

So, on a lighter note, here’s an odd story from one of our local online news headlines. I found the first sentence in the last paragraph hilarious.

This is our daily Open Thread. Join us and discuss..

The Watering Hole: December 7 — A day which will live in infamy…

The wrecked destroyers USS Downes (DD-375) and USS Cassin (DD-372) in Drydock One at the Pearl Harbor Navy Yard, soon after the end of the Japanese air attack.

On this day in history, the Japanese Imperial Navy attacked the United States’ naval base in Pearl Harbor, Hawaii.

From the Wiki:

The attack was intended as a preventive action in order to keep the U.S. Pacific Fleet from interfering with military actions theEmpire of Japan was planning in Southeast Asia against overseas territories of the United Kingdom, the Netherlands, and the United States.

 

The base was attacked by 353[10] Japanese fighters, bombers and torpedo planes in two waves, launched from six aircraft carriers.[10] All eight U.S. Navy battleships were damaged, with four being sunk. All but two of the eight were raised, repaired and returned to service later in the war. The Japanese also sank or damaged three cruisers, three destroyers, an anti-aircraft training ship,[nb 2] and one minelayer. One hundred eighty-eight U.S. aircraft were destroyed; 2,402 Americans were killed[12] and 1,282 wounded.

This shocking attack led to the United States declaring war on Japan, and our subsequent entry into World War II.

This is our daily open thread — What’s on your mind?

The Watering Hole: Dateline November 19, 1863

Abraham Lincoln Leaving after Delivering his Address at Gettysburg - The tall guy

The committee for the Consecration of the National Cemetery at Gettysburg politely invited President Lincoln to speak thusly:

It is the desire that, after the Oration, you, as Chief Executive of the nation, formally set apart these grounds to their sacred use by a few appropriate remarks.

They expected nothing more than a few stumbling words to be offered by the buffoon from Illinois. Instead, Lincoln delivered an address that is woven into our nation’s fabric. He opened with:

Four score and seven years ago our fathers brought forth, on this continent, a new nation, conceived in Liberty, and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal.

And ended with this phrase:

… that we here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain—that this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom—and that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth.

These two excerpts from his 272 word address were bookends that paraphrased the foundation, the purpose and the future hopes of a nation that at that time was in the throes of a struggle for its very existence. They also bracket the lexicon that is America. Scarcely any American child who has studied our nation’s history is allowed to forget the meaning of the entire speech, but those two phrases are burned into every child’s memory.

From the core of that address comes this:

The world will little note, nor long remember what we say here, …

Those are the only words that are remembered by present day Republicans.

This is our Open Thread. What would Lincoln think if he were brought into this time? Would he think that the men who died at Gettysburg, died in vain?

The Watering Hole: August 23rd – A short tale of two wars

War I fought to rid the world of a dictator (or so they said):

Deaths of military coalition forces: 4’792
Deaths of civilians due to coalition action: 100’000 est.

Cost: USD 792’313’100’000 and counting

War II fought to rid the world of a dictator

Deaths of military coalition forces: 1 (British Airman killed in a traffic accident in Italy)
Deaths of civilians due to coalition action: 64 – 90 casualties, but it is still an estimate.

Cost USD 896’000’000 est.

Don’t get me wrong here. I do not approve of war. But I do not approve of dictators either and my home country has been rid of the worst in 1945. It wouldn’t have been possible without using military force. But you can get rid of them in a smart way by supporting a people in the uprising, or you can go about it the dumb way by just going in with out a first, let alone a second thought.

This is our daily Open Thread. Just add your thoughts.

The Watering Hole: Operation Iraqi Freedom ends — August 19

On this day, one year ago, combat brigades completed their departure from Iraq, 12 days earlier than anticipated.  It was claimed that the war in Iraq was over — contradicting George W. Bush’s “Mission Accomplished” bullshit from several years earlier — but it was necessary to leave behind 50,000 personnel, because the Iraqi government needed our support.

The United States has paid a huge price to put the future of Iraq in the hands of its people. We have sent our young men and women to make enormous sacrifices in Iraq, and spent vast resources abroad at a time of tight budgets at home. We have persevered because of a belief we share with the Iraqi people—a belief that out of the ashes of war, a new beginning could be born in this cradle of civilization. Through this remarkable chapter in the history of the United States and Iraq, we have met our responsibility. Now, it is time to turn the page.
—President Obama’s Address on Iraq, August 31, 2010

Thank goodness that’s over…oh wait.

Number of Iraq coalition fatalities since August 31, 2010:  56 (4792, since 2003)

True cost of Iraq War:  $3 trillion and more

Our country is collapsing into a severe depression — financial and moral. Most of this country’s money is sitting in offshore accounts, and since our Congress won’t actually do anything like raise taxes so we have money, in case the President might get credit, we are effectively broke. Hence, we can’t afford to be at war. Wow, go figure, right?

This is George W. Bush’s unwinnable, endless, deadly folly, which has created more terrorists than we ever killed. Can we stop pretending there can be a positive ending to this, stop pouring our money into this black hole, and bring the troops home?

*crickets*

This is our daily open thread — Discuss among yourselves.

The Watering Hole: August 6 – Enola Gay

The Enola Gay


Today marks the date of the first use of nuclear energy in a weapon. A bomb dropped from a single plane, the Enola Gay, destroyed the Japanese city of Hiroshima.

Most of the people who perished from the blast, 70000, died in an instant. Others spent days in excruciating pain from physical injuries and burns, some while buried in the rubble. Still others have died from radiation poisoning since then.

Nuclear weapons have been used on only one other target – the Japanese city of Nagasaki on August 9th. The results were no different.

Since then, no nuclear weapons have been used in any conflict. It seems that humanity has realized that these weapons are to horrible to ever be used again. Still bigger and better (I use that term loosely.) versions of these weapons have been developed which mutes that concept.

At the present time, 7 or 8 nations possess and maintain nuclear weapons. 2 others have active development programs.

This is our Open Thread. What do you think about nuclear weapons? Should the arsenal even be maintained? How do we phase them out?

The Watering Hole: November 26 – North Korea

What the heck do we do about this rogue nation?

Up to now we and the South have tried to placate the North by paying bribes in order to continue to protect South Korea, particularly the city of Seoul, a prosperous city of over 10 million people. China, the Norths only ally, has also tried to placate the North Korean dynists, but has yet to capture their ear.

Bombing the shit out of the North would be a simple task except for the fact that over 50 years of inaction has allowed them to put in place artillery and missile sites in place that could easily level Seoul and areas immediately south before the job was even 5% done. Nuclear weapons are not even an option because of the proximity of all of South Korea to any nuclear fallout.

Each time the North is assisted by food stuffs and the basic needs of life, they invest the funds and services freed-up to the production of even more weapons (Including nuclear production facilities.)

All I ask for is a rational and safe resolution of this self-perpetuating problem that does not imperil the survival of South Korea and its people.

Simple task? I am open to suggestions.

This is our Open Thread. Please feel free to add your thoughts on this, or any other topic that comes to mind.

The Watering Hole: November 11 – Veterans Day

I do not know if anyone here remembers Armistice Day. Every November 11th, at the entire elementary school that I attended, the entire staff and student body would trudge down to the auditorium where at the 11th minute of the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month we would be given an injection of patriotism and told about our God-given duty to buy savings stamps for Federal Savings Bonds. I filled about a half-dozen books and lost each and every one during our move to Dallas from Baltimore in 1953.

As you might have well guessed, the saving stamp collection drives did not miss a beat but the stamp books that I accumulated in Dallas as well as the bonds converted from the stamp books were lost when the family moved to New Jersey. All-in-all I believe that I alone am the fount for about 20% of the national debt.

Getting back to the subject, on October 8th, 1954, President Eisenhower signed HR 7786 which changed Armistice Day to Veterans Day and declared it a Federal holiday.

Today, we have a different twist – In many school districts, Veterans day is not even observed neither as a holiday nor in ceremony. Religious holidays have filled the calendar to the extent that Veterans Day has become just another school or work day (Yes, Christmas and Good Friday are religious holidays). My granddaughter is going to school today and my daughter-in-law is going to work as well. My son has the day off and plans to celebrate by continuing on a law school assignment.

It seems that our nation is continuing to lose its patriotic values in the Tea-Party universe. The only whimpers that I hear are the desire to cancel provisions in the law that boost taxes for the super rich per the current tax bill (Signed by G. W. Bush.) and those that will end entitlement programs that have framed retirement decisions as well as assisting the most needy in our society for decades. – All in the names of Jesus Christ.

This is our open thread. Please feel free to offer your own comments on this or any other topic.