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Patriotism, Love it or leave it

“In Dr. Johnson’s famous dictionary, patriotism is defined as the last resort of a scoundrel. With all due respect to an enlightened but inferior lexicographer I beg to submit that it is the first.” Ambrose Bierce

The Sacred Cows

“God and Country are an unbeatable team; they break all records for oppression and bloodshed.” Luis Bunue

American flagThere are two Sacred Cows in America, Religious faith and Patriotism. To disparage either under any condition will not be tolerated in this country. There are two better unmentioned conservatively incorrect words for both, dogma and jingo.

Let me begin by giving the military a roundhouse upside the head. I was in the military for three long years (which was such a waste of time I subtract from my age), one year as an enlisted man and two as an Officer and Gentleman which I believe gives me a modicum of credibility in this matter.

What in the Hell is this crap with the military taking the moral high ground on social issues? My God man, their main entertainment is getting drunk and going to whore houses. They have a much higher domestic violence (wife beating) and divorce rate than the general public, and contrary to public opinion they are not there to die for the flag, but to either escape the real world or gather an array of benefits for when they get out.

Hey, all 14 people killed by soda machines falling on them while trying to steal a coke were military personal. The military is as close to a totalitarian communist organization as there is in this country. And this delusion about them dying for Old Glory, to halt communism, or to insure freedom and liberty for some group of indigenous peons a half a world away is crap, they honorably give their lives for each other, not some ever changing pile of political jingoism.

Neither can religious faith be questioned in America. Oh sure, the media can go after a religious figure, a cult, or question religion in politics, but to in anyway disparage or question a belief that angels play harps on little white clouds in the sky will not be published, aired or tolerated by either politicians, the mainstream media or in the public square. That area is left to blogs.

Love it or Leave It!

“Whenever you hear a man speak of his love for his country, it is a sign that he expects to be paid for it.” H. L. Mencken

I often hear conservatives screaming about how liberals control this country and how awful it all is to have to pay taxes and put up with Negroes going wherever they want. They often get so livid I can’t help but toss them the old canard of Love it or Leave it. But there is a problem with that; where can these tens of millions of conservatives go that it is more to the Right than here? South Africa changed, Slobovia is under UN control and anywhere in Africa is out of the question. That pretty much leaves only the Arab theocracies and Singapore. And even those places have national health care! So there really isn’t anyplace they can emigrate to; well other than Giedi Prime and Mordor.

Mr. Jingo and I

A 1996 study shows that senior military officers were 66% Republicans, with 92% of younger officers saying they were Republicans. It stated that conservatives now outnumber liberals 23 to 1 in all branches of the military and at the present rate all senior military officers will be Republicans before the decade is out. No wonder Adm. Boorda shot himself.

I don’t like Mr. Jingo. He ranks high in my lexicon of evil; up there with Hitler, Stalin, Satan, and Dick Cheney. As is true regarding religion, politics and money grubbing; patriotism to excess becomes a problem when used as a sanctuary. It is understandable to see it in such display in these days after September 11th, but rather than sooth us, Mr. Jingo drums up anger and vengeance to enrage us, an easy but unwise emotional road to follow.

And when the fervor reaches a national or cultural crescendo, some see fit to fly planes into buildings full of people.  Next time you see one of those old clips of the Nuremberg Rally count the flags. And round and round it goes, where it stops we already know. It’s a very serious problem which always seems to precede some horrendous act.

In 1968, I came off DMZ patrol in full winter combat gear to our base on a very cold night in Korea. The movie hut was empty for being too chilly inside, but dressed as I was, I decided to suffer it. On that cold night in Korea, alone in a cold little building I watched a movie called In Cold Blood. I don’t know if it was Truman Capote or Robert Blake, but one or the other planted some turmoil in my otherwise numb mind. The next day I spent talking with our Red Cross librarian. I explained my experience from the evening before and she handed me Melville’s Moby Dick. When I closed the last page, I also closed that turmoil within.

In a matter of only a week, two pieces of art changed my world view regarding two very important philosophical issues, capital punishment and revenge. Keep that in mind when you see conservatives on their rampage against one form of artistic expression or another. Mine was much like a defining moments many others experience when close to the action, or when our leader is assassinated, our harbor attacked, our city bombed, our land invaded, or watching a GI burn our hut. Only in Mr. Jingo’s world are there one way streets.

I came to terms with jingoism in that wonderful Summer of ‘69 after I returned from three years of military service. Both sides’ political use of the flag annoyed me at first, but as I watched over the ensuing months I realized its primary use was as a representation for war and vengeance in lieu of peace and understanding. That realization was a defining moment for me, and I have refused to saddle up to Mr. Jingo and his friends on any level since.

The Chickenhawks

The real answer to limiting war to only those absolutely necessary is to create and enforce an international law requiring only men over 40 be allowed in the military.

Conservatives make great fun of President Clinton’s questioning the Vietnam War and questioning his own participation in that war. In short, being honest to himself and walking the walk of his own beliefs, at least for a time. On the other hand there were literally millions of dishonest, hypocritical, cowardly conservatives who supported the war; content to have others die for them while refusing to personally participate themselves. Here are just a few:

Elliott Abrams – Sought deferment for bad back.
John Ashcroft – Sought teaching deferment
Richard Armey – Sought college deferment.
Bill Bennett – Sought graduate school deferment.
Pat Buchanan – Sought deferment for bad knee.
George W. Bush – Family got him in the reserves.
Dick Cheney – Sought graduate school deferment.
Tom DeLay – – Sought college deferment.
Newt Gingrich – Sought graduate school deferment.
Phil Gramm – Sought marriage deferment.
Dennis Hastert – Sought deferment to coach wrestling.
Jack Kemp – Sought medical deferment while in the NFL.
Rush Limbaugh – Sought deferment for ingrown hair follicle on his ass.
Trent Lott – Sought college deferment.
P.J. O’Rourke – Sought deferment, too stoned.
Dan Quayle – Family got him into the Reserves.
Pat Robertson – Father pulled him out of Korea as soon as the shooting began.
Kenneth Starr – Sought deferment for psoriasis.
John Wayne – Refused to volunteer for World War II.
Vin Weber – Sought deferment for asthma.
George Will – Sought deferment for graduate school.

61% of the men killed in Vietnam were under 21. 50% more draftees were killed while the draft was in effect than enlistees. Only 2% were college graduates. 75% of those killed were lower middle class or from families living below the poverty level.The result of the Vietnam War was not only 58,000 dead Americans, but 1 million North Vietnamese soldiers, 2 million Vietnamese civilians with another 4 million wounded.

Those previously mentioned hypocritical cowards wished then, as they still do today, that all those figures were higher, much higher. Do not forget we dropped three times as much ordnance on Vietnam than we did in all theaters of war in World War II. So when these Chickenhawks feed you that bullcrap about fighting that war with our hands tied behind our back, be sure to understand that they mean we should have instituted a full scale ground invasion into North Vietnam and on to China with projected other-than-me American deaths in the hundreds of thousands. Or we should have dropped megaton-class hydrogen bombs on major population centers throughout Southeast Asia.

The rationale for making nasty personal attacks on liberals, Democrats and the Clintons with impunity has been the catch phrase popularized by Rush Limbaugh, Character Matters. Indeed it does, as in Congress:

The Democratic leadership in the House and Senate:

House Minority Leader Richard Gephardt – Served in uniform, 1965-71
House Minority Whip David Bonior – Served in uniform, 1968-72
Senate Minority Leader Tom Daschle – Served in uniform, 1969-72
Ex- President of the Senate Albert Gore – Served in uniform, 1969-71

The Republican leadership in the House and Senate:

Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich – avoided the draft, did not serve.
Majority Leader Dick Armey- avoided the draft, did not serve.
Majority Whip Tom Delay – avoided the draft, did not serve.
Senate Majority Leader Trent Lott – avoided the draft, did not serve.

Keg heads

“If any question why we died, tell them, because our fathers lied.” Rudyard Kipling

Dick Cheney (a Vietnam War supporter who sought and was awarded 5 deferments so not to have to go himself) had an inauguration party titled Salute to Veterans! It was hosted by Gerald McRaney (the actor who portrayed Major Dad, a Vietnam War supporter who sought and was awarded a deferment so not to have to go himself). Featuring Tom Selleck (a Vietnam War supporter who sought and was awarded National Guard duty so not to have to go himself). Entertainment was provided by patriot and family values advocate Lee Greenwood (who has been divorced five times and has no link to the military) who sang God Bless the USA.

Surprise guests inculded Attorney General John Ashcroft (a Vietnam War supporter who sought and was awarded a deferment so not to have to go himself) and President George W. Bush (a Vietnam War supporter who sought and was awarded National Guard duty so not to have to go himself). There was also a tribute to John Wayne (who was the only celebrity of his time to flat out refuse to join the fight in World War II).

In the 2000 election veterans preferred George Bush who avoided the draft, to Vietnam Veteran Al Gore who promised twice as much money to upgrade the Military and increase veterans benefits than George Bush. While there still has been no explanation for George W Bush deserting his National Guard duty for over a year in a time of war. Something truly seems amiss, and I think I know what it is. There is way, way too much tap beer being drunk in America’s VFWs. Trust me on this, this is something I know about.

Reinstate the Draft

The crime of the century was not some black guy killing his white wife as the media tells us. But rather it was the murder of 168 people by a conservative, NRA, white Army veteran by the name of Timothy McVeigh.

I know how to solve all our foreign policy problems. First we reinstate the draft. Then we get a bunch of tattle tales to give the draft boards the names of all the militaristic armchair warriors; those who blather on about being dead than red; the members of all the nitwit militias; all the gunloons, and every flag waving my country right or wrong, onward Christian Soldiers, bloodthirsty conservative. Then just forcibly conscript them and send them to various “political hotspots” throughout the world for the rest of their natural lives.

Think of the positives of such a system! Millions of jobs would open up. Our national IQ would soar. No paramilitary organizations running amok in the hinterlands. As the entire audience would be out of country; no more audience for AM Hate radio! It would also give the military better demographics, and heck, we could even conscript the disabled. The conservative blind could go on permanent night ‘listening posts’, conservatives who couldn’t walk could crew tanks and the deaf could join the artillery. Even conservative old ladies could be implemented as indiscriminate grenade launchers and conservative housewives as sexual espionage agents.

What an idea! And the more rabid their conservative jingoism, the closer to the action they would go. They’d work free of course being patriots and all, and we could repay the national debt in just a couple years.

Perhaps now that B-1 Bob Dornan has nothing to do, we could get him to personally lead the exodus. And you know, this would make everyone happy; the warmongers, the Army, the country, and most importantly, me. But I suppose you see the problem in all this: the day after such a plan was initiated, all the big talkers would be hiding under their beds.

In a less satirical vein, I indeed do believe the draft should be reinstated. For as we can see these days, without the political angst involved in everyone having the chance of losing a loved one; we will go to war to keep gas prices down, we will start wars and even talk of preemptive nuclear strikes.

Life Isn’t Cheap in America

“The people can always be brought to the bidding of the leaders. That is easy. All you have to do is tell them they are being attacked and denounce the pacifists for lack of patriotism and exposing the country to danger. It works the same way in any country.” Hermann Goering

All over the world humans are upended by sorrow when death knocks on their door. Though here in America it is a far more serious matter. As we heard often during Vietnam, in the third world life is cheap. Sure, funerals may be cheap in those foreign lands, but wouldn’t that translate into, “death is cheap”? Perhaps it has to do with having too many children. But that couldn’t be, for it would mean the Chinese with their one-child only policy would make it the place where life is the most expensive. I apologize for being unable to explain this traditional American belief, but the numbers seem to have been settled. One American life is worth:

2 British
4 Australians
15 French
100 Mexicans
500 Asians
1000 Muslims
And 10,000 Africans

28th Amendment – Flag Burning

The Flag Amendment should read: The desecration of the flag will be punishable by federal law, as say we, the United Buffoons of America.

I find myself frustrated in discussing this flag issue with most people. I suppose this is because even though I am in the minority, I know I am morally, politically, legally and intellectually correct. The purpose of the Flag Amendment is to amend the constitution to curtail political dissent. PERIOD. With this Republican sponsored amendment and their Right to Life and School Prayer amendments, what kind of times do we live in when the only changes to our constitution these days deny individual liberty rather than dispense it.

The problem with flag burning is that it offends people, and as the First Amendment does not exclude offensive speech, we want that changed. It comes up almost every year: But now with Republicans in control of all branches of government, it may finally become law.

Do we really want to begin a Soviet style Gulag filled with political prisoners? Wasn’t a major point of the Cold War that the other side made political dissent illegal? Do we really want to follow in the steps of pre-war Germany, Japan and Italy and align ourselves with the political intolerance of present day China, Albania, Cuba, and Iran who have flag laws?

We should not kid ourselves, even with the change of the word desecration to physical desecration in today’s text, it is still spurious enough to have the far-flung consequences of giving communities and states the right to jail people for political dissent. Neither should we kid ourselves that people will then be afraid to burn a flag. This amendment could well create the grandest form of dissent our country has ever witnessed. Will police drag people away day after day who are standing up for one extreme cause or another just to get the media attention? Are we going to produce thousands of our own little Tianaman Squares?

And there is the silliness of it all. Is passing a law jailing those who burn a flag for political dissent in itself cause to burn a flag? On the day it becomes law, how many flags will be burned just in dissent of that law. I can think of perhaps one. I wonder if three strikes will apply, if you burn a flag three times do you get life without parole? What if you burn three flags at once? Will there be special federal prisons to incarcerate flag burners? What is a flag? Are representations of flags, flags? What about the size of a flag, do those little 4th of July stick in the ground ones count? What about flag lapel pins?

I am deeply saddened by this. It means we as a country do not practice what we preach to the rest of the world. It means we are really no better than most other places. It means we care only for freedom when it suits us, and most alarmingly, it is a sign we no longer have the confidence in freedom, or ourselves that we once had. This may be the first twinkle in our cognizance that we are becoming just another place that has had its day, a last straw to grasp as we descend into oblivion.

The Flag Amendment, the Prayer Amendment and the Right to Life Amendment are prime examples of what the GOP is up to with their incessant whining about individual rights, liberty, and getting the damn government off our backs. Wake up America, smell the borscht.

American Dead in Our Most Recent Wars

Korea 47,000
Vietnam 58,000
Gulf War 260
Somalia 26
Haiti 1 (suicide)
Bosnia 3 (mine & accidents)
Kosovo 0
Afghanistan 2000
Iraq 4000

Conservatives backed the wars except the one in which we lost 0 soldiers, and where a clear and present case of genocide was happening.

Name That Tune: Crips, Bloods or the GOP?

Death Before Dishonor. Where is that from again? I forgot if it was the Marines or the Crips.

Yo, dude. Like they dissed us, they show no respect, man. We be the Crips and we mean to have respect like I said. They showed disrespect for our colors, dude. Unacceptable dude, so we made them pay for their lack of respect. We don’t need any of that legal law or anyone else agreeing with us, we take care of their lack of respect ourselves, we will drive by and toss some lead. It is what teaches them respect for our colors. The turf is not as important as the respect. If the witches and ho’s don’t respect us we hold ‘em down and fck ‘em over some. If the dregs and the wrinkles don’t show us no respect be beat them up some, and if any other gang shows disrespect for our colors, we kill ‘em some. You gotta understand, respect us or pay the price. And ya know dude, the more we force people to give us the respect that is our due, the more disrespect we get.

Damn Foreigners

In my work I have been often sent a Damn Foreigner to travel with for a week to help push his or her company’s products through my territory. I had Germans, Swedes, Italians and English. There were five consistent themes in their wonder at America in order of importance:

1) The racial poverty in such contrast to nearby affluence.

2) The gun culture they just could not understand at all.

3) Our propensity to executions when all of Europe decided to rise above barbarianism and become civilized.

4) Those really stupid nutcake preachers on TV!

5) And of course, they were all flabbergasted by the low cost of eating out.

War Fever

The Gulf War was our first really enjoyable war to watch. The armchair warriors sat in front of their televisions, drinking beer and choking on pretzels, celebrating in the bloodlust pandered by the unnatural grafting of the media and the Pentagon. I heard Rush Limbaugh advocating nukes, I heard Paul Harvey advocating Neutron bombs, I heard Stormin’ Norman Schwartzkauf say he was not ruling out chemical or nuclear weapons while the polls show the people split on the use of tactical nuclear weapons.

Do we have a name for these smaller nuclear bombs yet? How about we rename the big ones from the silly Peacemakers to Christallmighties and the smaller ones Christinies.

Ribit, Ribit

Patriotism is no different than religion; it transcends logic, reason, facts and even common sense.

Gosh, are we going to take on France after we have invaded Iraq, Iran and North Korea? Down here in Hat-Too-Big Land we are so mad at France for standing up for peace, it’s a mad rush for freedom fries, freedom toast and freedom kissing. We start a war phising off a few billion people and top it off with a trade war with the European Community? Sounds like A PLAN!

My twenty-nine percent theory has come into play again. A recent poll said that 29% of Americans want to start a trade war with France and any other country not wanting to start this war with a phis ant. Twenty-nine percent. The same number of Americans who do not want to

Give juries the option of life without parole in lieu of execution.

The same amount who want to deny a woman the liberty and freedom to choose to have an abortion for any reason.

The same amount who wave their guns around promoting 40 round clips and armor piercing ammunition.

The same amount who make up the Religious Right.

The same amount who are eager to start wars, who don’t like fags, who think Strom Thurmond would have done great things as President, and who don’t give a rat’s ass about anyone or anything including the planet they live on.

And you know, they are all pretty much the same people, who all live on my street.

Operation Shock and Awe

Cowboy George was not content with screwing up America for his first two years, he is now intent on spending the rest of his time at the White House screwing up the whole World.

Boy, that one in the center of Baghdad was so big it looked like a nuke. If that wasn’t a weapon of mass destruction I don’t know what is. Perhaps it is time the rest of the world got together to initiate inspections to rid America of the weapons of mass destruction it drops on people around the world more than everyone else put together. I wonder what we would do any different than what Saddam Hussein has done. Sadly, I can guess. “I am 150% behind our president using nukes.”

Saddam Hussein realized long ago this was a military battle he could not win, but whether he survived or not, he understood it was a political war he would win. A courageous stand against the world’s ultimate bully. With great sacrifice comes not only respect, but martyrdom. And with it an increase in the ethnic religious fervor for a thousand year Jihad.

Even as an American and a veteran I am not so much shocked and awed by what I just saw as I am saddened and ashamed. The biggest giant who ever lived reeking so much carnage on a phis ant with barely the means to respond. A vision of the Green Bay Packers on the field against the Dixie Chicks, which most Americans would love to see. If so many of us here see this carnage as over the top, imagine how the rest of the world sees it. Even though our media does not allow us to see the horror of it all (feeding us only the good news from the Pentagon), the rest of the world is also seeing the bad and the ugly. That image will not be lost for a very long time.

Spitting on ABC

“George W. Bush is the worst president in all of American history.” 82 year old White House correspondent Helen Thomas who has covered more Presidents than anyone.

The political jingo of late has been all about Supporting our Troops. The center of the propaganda campaign to define anyone questioning this war as un-American and laying in wait to spit on the returning soldiers. A re-issue of the same dishonest political propaganda dispensed by the same dishonest conservative mentality a generation earlier.

It is a lie that those against the war in Vietnam spit on the returning veterans. There has never been a single case ever documented of that actually happening. And as a returning veteran at that time myself, I can tell you (as any other Veteran will tell you), had anyone spit on me I would have taken two pounds of flesh out of their neck with my teeth. Suspiciously, there is no documentation of that ever happening either.

I Support Our Troops is a canard even without that old jingoism, for anyone disagreeing with this war must loudly precede any comment they make with it. What does it mean?

Hey, no American wishes any harm or ill will to any American soldier and wants them all unhurt and home. It should not have to be said. The real question is whether we support what our troops are doing. There is a world of difference between that personal support of our men and women there, and the political support of what they have been forced to do.

Not long ago I spent a day with some old veteran friends in a trailer park. The politics of the war were not much of an issue, but all expressed the same anger at Cowboy George for using politics to force our troops into the position they are in. They also all seemed to feel it would be no cakewalk, but another real bad time for all concerned. That in turn led to another discussion, the very issue that got Bill Maher bounced off ABC.

Soon after the Baghdad Barrage the President and various politicians, generals and journalists all talked about the courage and bravery of our troops. Well I am sorry, courage and bravery is not the stuff of week long turkey shoots pushing buttons and buzzing around in air conditioned armored vehicles.

There were a few hundred thousand who fought for a couple days in the Gulf War. 260 Americans died (more than half of which were from accidents and friendly fire). The administration tells us this war in Iraq will be much the same. No doubt our troops will show far more courage and bravery than the millions of conservative armchair warriors here at home watching the ongoing carnage on Fox News, cheering and snapping up Buds. But to compare these Gulf wars to the millions who fought, and the hundreds of thousands who died in World War II, Korea and Vietnam – who crawled around in the muck, the blood and the crap for years on end watching each other’s body parts fly through the air – is dishonest. So fire me from ABC too you jingo bastards.

When Right-wing a wholes (now called neo-cons for the conservatively correct) have control of all branches of government you see the result. Our economy and liberty at home decimated. One war right after another, starting them not for border incursions, not for being attacked, not for genocide or even because the offender attacked someone else; but for oil reserves, religious dogma, imperial designs and personal cowboy vengeance. Not to mention whatever serious big damn geopolitical mess it will leave. All under the guise of the spurious lie that these neo-conservatives in the White House are doing it for humanitarian reasons. Hell, when have they ever done anything at all for humanitarian reasons?

Beach Vacations

Many people like to take their vacations at the beach. I have a suggestion, go South out of country. The airfare may be greater but that is usually made up for with lower cost in everything else. Choose a place with a dissimilar culture than our own, heck, go to Cuba and get a look at them face to face. The first time perhaps take a package tour, stay in somewhat Americanized places to gradually adjust, but while you are there search around for a cheaper and more enjoyable experience closer to the culture for next time. Once a year it is wise to exit the land of The Big Mac to take a look at a different culture; to get your bearings under the sky rather than only under the flag.