"Wheel of Misfortune", a classic example of the "OK, we did our job, now get us the hell home" attitude that settled in after a while during Operation Desert Storm.
I wasn't sure what to do here at Iddybud to honor veterans on Veteran's Day.
I watched the film "Three Kings" this morning. It reminded me of Operation Desert Storm. I pulled out some old letters from family members serving in the first Gulf War.
I chose part of one letter to share with you, not to evoke some wild emotion in you, but so that you may simply appreciate the everyday life of a soldier serving his country at a time of war. He could be you, he could be me. He could be your son, your brother, your Dad, your lover. Maybe he's there because he loves his country. Maybe he's there because it's simply his duty. Maybe he wants to be there. Maybe he doesn't. Maybe he agrees with his Commander in chief. Maybe he thinks the Commander in chief is wrong. He won't publically say, as a rule. But, rest assured, that soldier has his private opinion, and he's going to let his family and friends know about it. He may do courageous things, but he never planned on being a hero. He's human. He's trusting. He's loyal. He's brave in the face of danger he never thought he'd have to face. He deserves a Commander in chief who truly and humbly understands what the soldier's life is worth to him and to those who love him. (Or her, I do not forget our women who serve).
24 Nov 1990
Letter from APS/Soldier serving in Kuwait
Things are pitifully the same. Last week, a helicopter pilot was sitting in his chopper on the runway, surrounded by other helicopters and people, doing a maintenance check on his equipment. I guess he pushed a red button by mistake and he launched a HELLFIRE MISSILE - it shot about a mile just above the ground - didn't hit anything - and blew up an Air Force Ammunition Supply Point! Believe it or not, nobody was even hurt.
In the last week, we've had one soldier who shot himself in the leg with his rifle - another stabbed himself in the chest. I could never imagine doing anything like that. NEVER! Now, I may sock someone in the chops if I really wanted to get back to the States. (A general, maybe :)
Two of my latest/greatest statements have been:
A. If something doesn't happen soon I'm gonna "wack out".
B. After getting chewed out for not having my hat on when I was supposed to, I imagined saying to the superior, "You know, in the big overall scene of my life, you don't amount to very much."
With that, I'll end this note. I miss you a lot. Write soon.
p.s. Just found out Jay Leno is going to be here in a couple hours. I won't see him since I'm working. :(
Vets- thanks for all you do and all you've done.
You are honored, loved, and deeply appreciated.
When the experienced and wise Seymour Hersh speaks, we listen. A Daily Kos diarist, leftwingnut, attended a speech given by Mr. Hersh at Iowa State last night. Here are some of his main talking points:
• Our democracy is fragile and easily tilted in another direction. He didn't mention the "F" word, instead referencing an "-ism."
• We are dropping more bombs in Iraq since 6/28 (the installation of Allawi) than before. This is a bad sign that things are not moving in the right direction.
• The same false logic that operated during Vietnam, that we have to destroy the village in order to save it is motivating the current drive on Fallujah.
• It is Kurdish Army units fighting alongside U.S. troops in Iraq, not trained Iraqi Army troops, as the media has reported.
• We are not fighting an insurgency, we are fighting the Baathist elements who melted away during the early phase of the invasion and are now operating in cells of 5-15 all over the country.
• Guantanamo is going to be a stain on U.S. history, like the Andersonville prison from the Civil War era.
• The terrorist bad seeds from Fallujah are now back in Samarra, which we "secured" weeks ago. And so the game will continue...
• Putin is playing games in the region, probably helping Iran nuclearize. Now that Bush has been "re-elected," the EU may take collective action. And whether they do or don't, expect European citizens, who really hate Bush, to take it out on U.S. companies like Ford, EuroDisney, etc. Hersh thinks the EU might attempt to become an interlocuter in the Israel-Palestine conflict because the U.S. has failed in this role under Bush.
• Nobody in the military believes they can speak out for fear of retribution. There is wide agreement among the branches of the service that Iraq is a lost cause, but no one wants to tell the President.
• The press corps has totally turned into Bush bootlickers. Start reading the Financial Times of London and Israeli daily Haaretz to get your news about what is really going on in the Middle East.
• There is wide agreement among the military that you don't use torture against hardened terrorists because they are quite willing to die for their cause, and it doesn't work--you just get disinformation. You also don't do to them what we don't want done to us.
One of the best Thomas Friedman columns I've read is in today's NY Times. With clarity, he asks relevant, common-sense questions about the war in Iraq.
The new Third Way Democrat's movement sounds like a surefire way to kill off newfound excitement among new, young Democratic voters, who are the face of our future. A 48% minority in America is no excuse for the Democratic party to move further from the base. I smell the prospect of more rotting away of an already-decaying party. How do you tell them they're taking a wrong turn - how do you tell them they are handing Grover Norquist and Karl Rove assured victory in 2008? I'm not sure how you can get it through their thick Republican lite noggins, all I know is that we'd damned well better do it soon.
Frank Rich raises a very important question in his column:
"Prime time was bestowed upon the three biggest stars in post-Bush Republican politics: Rudy Giuliani, John McCain and Arnold Schwarzenegger. All are supporters of gay rights and opponents of the same-sex marriage constitutional amendment. Only Mr. McCain calls himself pro-life, and he's never made abortion a cause. None of the three support the Bush administration position on stem-cell research. When the No. 1 "moral values" movie star, Mel Gibson, condemned the Schwarzenegger-endorsed California ballot initiative expanding and financing stem-cell research, the governor and voters crushed him like a girlie-man. The measure carried by 59 percent, which is consistent with national polling on the issue.
If the Republican party's next round of leaders are all cool with blue culture, why should Democrats run after the red?"
Sticking with the theme of values and Democratic hand-wringing, I saw a truth-telling letter to the DLC's failure of a strategist, Bruce Reed. It was written by a Daily Kos diarist. It was a reply to a WaPo column by Reed titled Ending Our Losing Ways
"..Finally, you said, "The last two campaigns have been short on such shock therapy." And I find myself a little amused. I was and am a supporter of Howard Dean. I think we all owe a debt of gratitude to Gov. Dean for providing us with exactly that. It was clearly Gov. Dean that shocked the Democratic Party out of it's slumber and made it clear that it was ok to go on the offensive against the Republicans rather than being their doormat as we had been the previous couple years....We Democrats ran from him. We voted for "electability" rather than strength of message. And we lost.."
What I believe we need in America today, to bring us back to sanity-in-democracy, is a media that supports a realistic reporting format. [There's a great Jay Rosen blogpost about this HERE].
Many in the media are far removed from the suburban American street, as David Brooks wrote about earlier this week. I think Brooks has recently been too much of a partisan hack, and I don't agree with his statement that "These exurbs are conservative but also utopian - Mayberrys with BlackBerrys. The Republicans won in part because Bush and Rove understand this culture." Most Washington, DC journalists are out of touch with Suburbia, U.S.A. Many of them think that suburbians are a bunch of Bush-loving Bible thumpers. I live in the suburbs and I know just as many people who would spit in Bush's eye as those who would fall on their knees for him. Brooks has raised an interesting point, however.
I believe that a realistic dialogue needs to begin in "Red" America and the media needs to show that, most realistically, there is a large "blue" minority who live and work alongside their intolerant neighbors. Perhaps a religion/faith dialogue is necessary. The Republicans tend to appeal to Christian voters in an extremely narrow way, sticking to 'Gods, guns and gays' while shutting off Democratic candidate's "faith" voice with accusations of hypocrisy surrounding those narrow issues. Topics such as the death penalty, social justice, and unjust war are totally avoided by Republicans, and I'm always amazed that no Democratic candidate will challenge them on their lack of moral reconciliation on such topics. Many "Blue" voters are people of strong faith who choose not to allow their faith to be reduced to a pitiful political agenda. Their faith is rich and deep, and no Democratic candidate ever acknowleges that fact in a way that drives home the truth (other than Howard Dean, who tried and was eventually destroyed by his own party). The "Blue" voters practically wind up getting labeled as 'heathens' by the Republican strategists. We know that isn't true. Christianity is damaged in the political process, as Michael Feingold points out in the Village Voice:
"The majority that voted for Bush—the slimmest an incumbent president has received since 1916 — did so not because they agreed with him on any important issues, but because they viewed his opinion on matters like abortion and same-sex marriage as good, and any alternative opinion as evil. The two great failures of this election were the failure of democracy as a concept in the public mind, and the failure of Christianity as a religion."
It's time for Democrats to stop being afraid to touch forcefully upon the subject of Christianity, with all cynicism set aside.
Speaking of religion, Omri Elisha, at The Revealer, has an extremely interesting article comparing Bush to the Biblical Esther. Link: God Save the Queen
"In Farenheit 9/11, Michael Moore wonders what Bush might have been thinking while he sat in the classroom looking bewildered for those seven minutes after learning that a second plane struck the Twin Towers. In light of political and business links between the Bush family and its Saudi bedfellows, Moore speculates that Bush must have been thinking “Hmm, which one of my friends screwed me?” Maybe he was, maybe he wasn’t. Sadly, that question is already beside the point.
What remains significant is how conservative evangelicals read that moment, and every presidential moment since then. If we come at this from a perspective that they might take, it follows that evangelicals did not see a bewildered politician, a man in over his head, stymied by his own inexperience and geo-political entanglements. Rather they saw the reluctant Queen Esther struggling to come to terms with the abrupt realization that she is implicated in a drama much larger than herself.
At that moment, Bush, like Esther, represented the evangelical’s greatest ambition and anxiety -- that one day he/she will be called upon to surrender him/herself to an irreversible state of being where personal faith and historical destiny become one and the same...."
It is not surprising, after such manipulation of faith by Republicans, that frustration and cynicism are pervasive among decent "Blue" voters. In an open letter to the "Red State victors", an author from the New Democrat Outreach Program writes:
"Understandably, you resent us, so you've fabricated an imaginary measure of superiority: Christian "values." Yet you talk about values the way a pre-teen girl talks about "love" in fan letters to Ashton Kutcher. You recycle quasi-religious platitudes and received slogans. You know nothing of moral theology, a rigorous philosophical pursuit that hardly exists outside the Catholic Church and its elite universities. You make of the Bible what you will; you attend prayer meetings with other semi-literates, where you reinforce each other's sloppy understandings of the text, and combine them with half-digested bits of old-timey Hallmark-card "wisdom." And when you spout gibberish, you call it "speaking in tongues." You actually fancy that you're saints, you silly, narcissistic creatures."