The War

Oct. 5th, 2007 12:53 pm
lurkitty: (Pogo)
Like many on my flist, I watched Ken Burns' series, The War. I grew up with stories from my parents about WWII. On my blood father's side, I had an uncle my mom never met who was killed at Pearl Harbor, but not in the attack. He died in a motorcycle accident. My blood father never saw combat, but had served as an airplane mechanic in Hawaii.

I can remember playing with ration tokens in my mother' s button box, and making cake with vinegar, baking soda and apple sauce instead of eggs and oil like they did during the war.

My Dad (my stepdad) served in the Merchant Marines. During every war since 1775, the Merchant Marines, normally a commercial fleet, have been pressed into service ferrying troops and materiel for US forces. The seamen who served during the war were given veteran status by the government recognizing their contribution to the war effort. But not my Dad. He was black, one of 24,000 African Americans who served in the Merchant Marines in all capacities except command. Black sailors were not recognized for their service nor were they declared veterans until 1988. Ken Burns did not address the Merchant Marines.

Notwithstanding, I did find that that Burns documentary was well done. It is far more an anthropology piece than a military history. There are certainly better military histories, but this was a very good depiction of the effect of the war on peoples' lives. The striking thing was the impact of the experience on the people at home. They were called upon from the very first to contribute, to cut back, to save and to ration. The war cut deeply into their everyday lives. They were asked to buy war bonds; to invest in the US knowing that when the boys returned, we would prosper again. Everyone had a part to play. Not only was it considered unpatriotic to speak out against the war, it was unpatriotic to profit from the war. People trusted that everyone was making the same sacrifices across the board. They were in it together.

We are continually exhorted to "fight the war on terror", yet, far from being called upon to contribute, we have been informed from the very start that we are all suspects; subject to detention without trial. We are searched at airports, surveilled, caught on film, our phones tapped without warrant. No one is above suspicion. We find that while our soldiers live in barracks and tent cities, they are paid half that of mercenary "private contractor" forces living in posh hotels. Mercenaries who were recruited from the armies of former dictators like Milosevic and Pinochet are making a profit from the billions of dollars that we owe China. Companies like Halliburton cannot account for millions of dollars they were allocated. Iraqi insurgents are killing our soldiers with guns we supplied them.

Yet when we question these expenses and actions, we are called unpatriotic. When our soldiers, exhausted and wounded from tour after tour after tour, begin to question the logic of staying in a country that does not want our help, their patriotism is questioned by people who have never served a single tour of duty themselves.

We, as a country, have been sold a bill of goods. We have been asked to pay with the blood of our best and mortgage our future and the future of our children to line to pockets of a few conniving scoundrels in the name of false patriotism. I challenge them to watch "The War" and learn what patriotism really is, then repeal the obscene "USA PATRIOT Act", restore our Constitution and begin an orderly withdrawal from the quagmire. Our forefathers are rolling in their graves.
lurkitty: (albert)
Go to Google images and type "underwhelmed".

Enshrined there in thumbnails is an illustration of my feelings with respect to the passage of the Iraq war funding bill. I find myself, a lefty of the extremist ilk, quite unable to join in the festival of collective spleen venting against the Congress.

For the record, I do not think the troops should be in Iraq another day. Cutting off funding was a good idea. Adding a timetable was a good idea. Point made, speeches made, no veto-proof majority possible? Move on (to borrow a slogan).

Getting into a high-profile power struggle right now is not a good idea.

The US is in the midst of a Constitutional crisis. If you are following Gonzo-gate at all, you may have noted that, in the last few days, concrete testimony of illegal actions by the Attorney General have emerged. In essence, the Legislative Branch is using its oversight privileges to determine if the Executive overstepped its authority over the Judicial Branch.

A standoff right now between Congress and the President would be used to further charges by the Right that these hearings are politically motivated. It would also push coverage of the revelations further off the front pages and out of the lime light. The public needs to be constantly reminded that there is real malfeasance here, that there are members of this administration willfully breaking the law.

Call me barmy, but my eyes are on a bigger prize. We can stop this war by impeaching all the criminals who started it.
lurkitty: (Pogo)
Do we need more evidence that the Bush's erratic policies have made us less safe, not more?

Just yesterday, some of the world's most prestigious scientists met to reset the hands of the Doomsday Clock. Devised by the Bulletin of Atomic Scientists as a measure of how close the world is to nuclear holocaust, yesterday's warning was intended to awaken the world to the threat of nuclear proliferation due to both weapons acquisition and climate change. The scientists termed this "the most perilous period since Hiroshima".

Still more disturbing news has surfaced. An obsolete Chinese satellite, FY-1C, has apparently been shot down in a Chinese anti-satellite weapons test. Dr. Jeffrey Lewis Lewis and friends over at give you the details, including the text of an Aviation Week article confirming the launch of the kinetic kill vehicle on the satellite in the comments section.

While acknowledging this very possibility last month, Undersecretary of State Robert Joseph, declared, "There is no arms race in space, and we see no signs of one emerging." The Houston Chronicle continues , "He said that rather than writing treaties to address potential problems, the United States should concentrate on dealing with real nuclear weapons threats posed by enemies such as Iran and North Korea."

"A number of countries are exploring and acquiring capabilities to counter, attack and defeat U.S. space systems. Terrorists understand our vulnerabilities and have targeted our economy in the past, as they did on 9/11," Joseph said. "We reserve the right to defend ourselves."

The rattle of that saber sounds pretty hollow, sir, considering that the aggressor is China, not "terrorists", and they are quite well positioned to attack our economy, thanks to your profligate spending on a certain war.

crossposted to [ profile] ljdemocrats
lurkitty: (Default)
The reason I watch Scrooge (A Christmas Carol) every year is simple. It puts me in the correct perspective amid the commercialization and hype of the holiday season. With the Far Right proclaiming that the Left has declared war on Christmas, it is especially bad this year. Conniosseurs of Dickens will carry on a bit of a religious battle themselves over which version of this movie is the best. I watch the Alistair Sim (1951) version for one simple reason. It scares the piss out of me.

Dickens wrote A Christmas Carol as a ghost story. This is no cuddly little warm hearted children’s classic. This was intended to wake people up to the fact that the world had been overrun by greed, especially at a timof year when men’s hearts should be filled with love for their fellow man. Dickens has a way of portraying the dregs of society with awesome clarity. Director Brian Desmond Hurst brings this out in haunting camera angles and a sinister soundtrack. I especially love the stairway in Scrooge/Marley’s house, and the play of light and shadow as Scrooge goes to pay his final respects to his partner. The rag picker’s quarter’s are horror-filled; the consumptive children, the fat pox-laden Rag Man in his beaten-up stove-pipe hat, absently scratching at fleas. Patrick McNee (of Avengers* fame) even plays a bit part as a young Jacob Marley.

Then there’s Alistair Sim. He just looks mean and nasty. He delivers each line with precision. No nuance is wasted. He is an amazing actor. Watch the transformation in his whole body. His performance is stunning.

The thing I like best about this version is its faithfullness to the original. Dickens words haunt us today. Scrooge, when asked to donate money to the poor, replies, “Are there no prisons?… and the Union workhouses, are they still in operation?… and the Treadmill and the Poor Law are still in full vigor?” This is a strangely familiar attitude given the welfare to work laws of today. The incidence of welfare abuse is conflated by those with similar motives to Scrooge and his cohorts. The most disturbing image to me is point at which the second spirit, the Ghost of Christmas Present, opens his robe to reveal the two children inside. “…this boy is Ignorance, this girl is Want. Beware them both, but most of all beware this boy…”

We cannot afford to remain ignorant of the condition of the nation or of the world. If we learned nothing else from Katrina, let us learn that people of few means do not have cars in which to evacuate themselves from natural disasters, and political appointees are more likely to stuff their faces at restaurants than do their jobs at a time of crisis. The spectre of the boy haunts even G.W. Bush, who today hid behind the veil of faulty intelligence in explaining starting a war that has cost over 2000 American lives and 30,000 innocent Iraqi lives. Dickens original words? “Beware this boy, for on his forehead I see that written which is Doom!”
*thanks, merle


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