Saturday, March 15, 2008

Saturday Reading

Winter Soldier: America Must Hear These Vets' Stories

By Penny Coleman, AlterNet. Posted March 15, 2008.

I missed the Winter Soldier Investigation in 1971. At the time I was married to a vet who desperately wanted to put his war behind him -- and he wanted me to help him do it. We were supposed to pretend it had never happened. It didn't work.

Daniel refused to talk about Vietnam. "Talk to your old lady? No fucking way," his friend Bobby Lanz shot back when I said I thought that maybe Daniel wouldn't have killed himself if I had been able to get him to talk about whatever it was that was causing him such pain. "With other vets, you can say, 'shit man, I did all this horrible stuff. You're not going to believe the stuff I did', and someone who has been there will say, 'Yeah, so did I, so did we all.' But with your woman? You start to talk about having fucked some folks up bad, doing awful things, killing people, maybe, and she starts to cry and you don't go there again. You think, Fuck me, man, I don't need to hurt her. This is psychological abuse, so I am going to shut up."

Maybe I wouldn't have understood. Completely. But not knowing was far worse. For decades, I took responsibility for his death. I thought it was my fault. And even if I hadn't been able to understand exactly what he was talking about, I would have understood that he was in a kind of lethal pain. Whether it was that he thought he deserved to die or that he deserved to be put out of his misery, either way, execution or euthanasia, I would have understood that he had been injured in the war. And I would have known where to focus my grief and my rage.

@ Alternet


DEN said...

Wars are tough on the human soul.

Anger, rage, and pain all unite against love in the ultimate mind-blower of experiences, war.

One would hope a civilized society could get beyond the need to rule the world while killing the dissenters and forcing humanity to perform ghastly acts upon their fellow man.

We are a planet of one humanity after all.

David B. Benson said...

Crocuses starting to bloom --- first sign of Spring around here.

DEN said...

Trees around here are blossoming too.

At last, Spring!

DEN said...

ATLANTA (Reuters) - Workers cleared wreckage from downtown Atlanta on Saturday after a tornado struck the city, overturning cars, damaging numerous buildings and injuring dozens of people.

Around 30 people were taken to hospital and one was in serious condition after the storm, police said.

"It's very significant, very serious storm. There's lots of damage. It's the first tornado of this type in the city for over 30 years," Buzz Weiss, spokesman for the Georgia Emergency Management Agency, said in an interview.


Wild weather although Georgia is tornado prone, in fact I was right next to one that bent a freeway Waffle House sign down to the ground without kinking the 50 foot tall poles.

DEN said...

More spam posts today, got one from Ditaur and it said"Warning! See Please" with a link highlighted.

Link was to

All info. I have seen points to a virus infestation site.

Please be careful not to click links with short messages from names not familliar.

We now return you to your scheduled program already in progress.

David B. Benson said...

With regard to Atlanta,

welcome to the Anthropocene!

Even Dante could not imagine this...

David B. Benson said...

And again, welcome!

Another Storm Follows Atlanta Twister

DEN said...

"The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Association said the last tornado to hit a major city's downtown was Aug. 12, 2004, in Jacksonville, Fla. Downtown tornadoes have also struck Fort Worth, Texas; Salt Lake City; Little Rock, Ark.; and Nashville, Tenn., in the past decade."

Sounds like a definite trend to me.

David B. Benson said...

Today's sermon:
If We Want to Survive the Climate Crisis We Must Change

David B. Benson said...

After taking up the collection:

Climate Change Takes Bloom Off Wildflowers


David B. Benson said...

This link itself links to BHO's & Rodham's global warming/energy planning documents:

Could a President Obama or Clinton stop global warming?

No, and their tweedle-de-dum, tweedle-de-dee plans simply are not enough. But at least a start, so vastly better the Repug ol' man's...

DEN said...

Suppose we have to start somewhere.

I still do not think anyone can grasp the level of change required to effect actual climate change for the good, time will not stand still.

A lot of disastrous weather has yet to happen and there will be drains in infrastructure require many dollars to repair or modify.

DEN said...

By James Vicini - Analysis

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - For the first time in 70 years, the U.S. Supreme Court will take on the question of whether individual Americans have the right to keep and bear arms or whether it a collective right of the people for service in a state militia.

That question is at the heart of a long, impassioned debate about how much power the government has to keep people from owning guns and it could soon be decided by the U.S. Supreme Court in a case about one of the nation's strictest gun control laws.

Set for arguments on March 18 and with a decision expected by late June, the nation's highest court could resolve once and for all the much-disputed meaning of the Second Amendment of the U.S. Constitution.

Written 219 years ago, the amendment says, "A well regulated militia, being necessary to the security of a free state, the right of the people to keep and bear arms, shall not be infringed."

@ Reuters

An unarmed populous is defenseless against totalitarian rulers intent on suppressing dissent.

Trial baloon started in Canada

carey said...

I know David. The candidates' plans are not enough on the climate crisis happening before our eyes. Ain't life grand?

CNN's certainly been covering these tornados, naturally since their complex was hit.

I heard Laura Flanders this morning on Winter Soldier. Just devastating stuff, isn't it?

My schedule is nonstop right now, just wanted to let y'all know.

David B. Benson said...

Carey --- I enoourage stops in your schedule.

me, again, not lurking said...

Nothing of substance is going to happen on global warming until we admit that the "American Way of Life" needs to change. The candidate of "change" should have the cajones to talk about that fact, or his rhetoric is empty, meaningless. (So should the other candidate talk tough about the facts of life on this subject, but she doesn't claim to be all about "change" -- therefore, I expect more from a candidate who has made his mark on a promise of change, but is substantively no different than his opponent.)

This country has made the wrong choices for decades. We've been a car-dependent society for a fraction of our nation's existence. Why can't we walk more, ride the bus, hop on our bikes, demand more rail systems? Stop consuming useless shit that's made on the other side of the world. (Shoot. We sit on our asses, eat crap, get debilitating diseases, then demand a motorized wheelchair from Medicare or Medicaid, but that's another issue....)

I read that St. Barack will invest $150 billion over 10 years (I think it was) to advance the "next generation" of biofuels....blah blah blah and invest in "low emissions" coal plants. Hello! Didn't Science report that biofuels are not a rational solution? Maybe he's changed his mind. I dunno. I don't trust him on coal and corn. Period. Both biggies in Illinois -- coal and corn.

I'll feel like we're making progress when a presidential candidate is willing to run a campaign based on bad news that urgently needs addressing.

PS My crocuses are in full color...the daffs are just about to show their stuff.

David B. Benson said...

Micki, err, me again, not lurking --- The biofuels problem is already licked for ethanol. Just need to put the solution into widespread practice. Then no more corn-into-ethanol. That'll happen fast, IMO.

Unfortunately, there is no quick getting away from burning ever more coal. Hence the efforts to create Carbon Capture and Sequestration (CCS) add-ons for existing and new coal fired power plants.

I don't see Illinois exactly figuring large in the above. Rodham's statement says essentially the same thing, despite being from Arkansas, err, New York.

ยบ¿carol said...

Spring has sprung at last! Snow melted away over the past couple days, leaving pockets of it in shady areas. Tons of bird song unlike in the fall when we hardly heard a bird.

The red wing black birds are back and Izzy & I saw a robin when we went for a little walk around in the soggy grass. Woo hoo! Free again!

David B. Benson said...

Carol --- Spring fever!

Saladin said...

Greetings DEN, I hope you're having a nice weekend. It's butt freezing cold on my side of the hill! Might see some snow. Typical March weather over here. My post relates to your very apt statement:

"Wars are tough on the human soul."

Since I can't post a link to Myspace bulletins I am posting the essay in it's entirety, I think it is worth it.

A Letter to Barack Obama
Why Did You Threaten to Bomb Us?


Dear Senator Obama,

In the run-up to the 2004 US presidential election, it was said outside the United States that Americans should have the right to vote taken away from them. All those who'd been living under US-backed dictatorships should vote instead.

The reason was that for decades the World had been gathering actionable intelligence (a fine phrase, Senator, privileged by you) that a US election isn't only a US election. It's a World election. Yet, few Americans voted for a candidate, whether Republican or Democrat, for his ability to parley peacefully with the World. It didn't matter how many sovereign states were invaded, how many non-Americans were killed, or left homeless and stateless, nor how many democratically elected leaders were ousted from their countries by the United States. Americans seemed only concerned with the candidate's promises to them. So the World felt an obligation to offer aid in the shape of preemptively planting a new US president, one who'd respect the rights of others as being equal to the rights of Americans. If the American people protested and were arrested and tortured by World-backed military personnel, well, it was collateral damage, all part of the process of freedom and democracy. Sooner or later, they'd come to understand that their fate was being decided for them for their own good, and they'd be grateful.

Of course it didn't happen. The World is small compared to the United States. Besides, the non-Americans I know, myself included, don't really wish upon Americans the same fate that's been left to us. We don't want equal tyranny. We want equal worth.

The 2008 US presidential election is also a World election, which means the opinions of the World also won't matter much. Still, if those like me can't vote in fact, we can at least vote in spirit. I dare to hope (yes, naively) that some day my spirit--along with that of millions of others in my humble position--will matter.

Let's talk more about actionable intelligence.

Back in September 2004, as a Democratic Senate candidate, you made four revealing points in an interview with the Chicago Tribune. First, you favored using "surgical" missile strikes against Iran if the sovereign country refused to obey the US and eliminate its nuclear energy program. Second, you criticized the Bush administration's war in Iraq not because it violated every article in the Geneva Convention and every International Law, but because it drew away attention from "greater threats" such as Iran, North Korea, and Pakistan. Third, you linked Iran and Pakistan under the banner of "Islamic world". Fourth, you favored attacking Pakistan's nuclear arsenal, if Pakistan's self-appointed president, Pervez Musharraf, was overthrown by Pakistanis who have every reason to want him gone and every right to struggle toward this goal. I quote you: "I think there are elements within Pakistan right now-if Musharraf is overthrown and they took over-I think we would have to consider going in and taking those bombs out, because I don't think we can make the same assumptions about how they calculate risks."

You didn't care to elucidate what you meant by 'elements' nor whom you meant by 'they'. Pakistan has 160 million people. I think we have a right to know exactly which one of us you meant. I think we have a right to know how you calculate risks.

Your 2008 presidential election slogan is CHANGE. How can there be change, when your views on foreign policy are no different from that of President Bush? You frequently say, as proof of difference, that you didn't vote for the 2003 Iraq War. Of course not. You weren't in the Senate at the time.

So what is different about you? What's the change? The question was put to your fans during the New Hampshire primaries in Jan 2008, and the results are posted on The Real News website. When one supporter was asked what kind of change you represent, she replied: "He comes from a completely different background. He's international. He's interracial ... He represents everything that is America and that is the World. That's what we need right now. He will change the way America is seen in the World."

To me this sums up the enormous gap between how your supporters see America and how others see America. I know some of your supporters. I've asked them why your position on North Korea and the "Islamic World" isn't seen as xenophobic and imperialistic within the United States when outside the United States, it is. I've asked them why your racist wartalk isn't called racist wartalk within the United States when outside the United States, it is. Like the supporter above, they cite your international and interracial background as proof of difference. This is almost as insulting as Geraldine Ferraro saying you are where you are because you're black. You're not a candidate for change because you're black anymore than you're ahead in the polls because you're black. You are where you are because, as far as world peace is concerned, you're not a candidate for change. If you said, for example, that the country with the most nuclear weapons in the World must first eliminate its own nuclear program if weaker countries are to do the same--well, see what I mean? You wouldn't be where you are.

Over three years have passed since your above mentioned interview with the Chicago Tribune. Some may argue that you've changed since then, that your world view has matured and you wouldn't favor military action against Iran or Pakistan today because the people of Iran and Pakistan are no less important than the people of America. On the contrary, the views you've endorsed since then are no less alarming.

In August 2007, when Senator Hillary Clinton accused you of being naive about foreign policy, your mannish response was to reiterate your 2004 views and take them to a higher level, as it were: "If we have actionable intelligence about high-value terrorist targets in Pakistan and President Musharraf won't act, we will." Suddenly, those 'elements' you vaguely mentioned in 2004 weren't only a threat if they overthrew America's man, Musharraf. You said you'd "act" whether or not Musharraf agreed!

It's worth adding that Clinton criticized you for this comment, though later the same day, she told American Urban Radio Network, "If we had actionable intelligence that Osama bin Laden or other high-value targets were in Pakistan I would ensure that they were targeted and killed or captured." She also praised her husband Bill Clinton's 1998 attack on Afghanistan, in which Osama was neither killed nor captured. The only reason this letter is addressed to you not her is because you're winning. It's probably you against Senator John McCain, and McCain ain't gonna change. Maybe you will.

Please consider this: Pakistan has always been a US ally. It was an ally during the 1979-1988 Afghan War, when the US gave billions of dollars to the Islamic Jihad to fight the Soviets in Afghanistan. Militant Islamic movements are a product of the US financing of the Islamic Jihad. Osama is America's creation. You want change? Be the first US president to acknowledge this link. The United States has a responsibility to Fess Up, and a responsibility to address its past mistakes without killing more innocent civilians. It's Pakistanis who've had to watch Pakistan destroyed because of the US-funded Jihad. It's we who've been living in the debris of your Cold War.

To add insult to injury, Pakistan is also a US ally in the War on Terror. We're also living in the debris of this war. Our own internal conflicts, which multiplied during the 1979-1988 Afghan War, have multiplied even further. You want change? Be the first US president to understand these internal struggles. They include: the struggle for better health care, better education, access to drinking water, access to electricity (power cuts this winter averaged 10 hours daily), the sanctity of the judiciary, the end of military rule, greater emphasis on cultural activities--on literature, music and things that bring people peace--class equality, women's rights, minority rights, that minor thing. We need to focus on our interests no less than you need to focus on yours. Pakistanis are sick of bowing to US command and sick of putting our struggles on hold for your wars.

To add more insult to more injury: We have done your bidding for as long as we know; in return, you threaten to bomb us. Which part of terror do you not understand?

To be the first international US President who'll change the way America is seen in the World, first change the way you see the World. See it as a partner, not a client. As a common ground, not a junkyard. There is actionable intelligence that the World couldn't be more ready for change.

Yours truly,

World citizen

P.S. You look nice in Somali dress. Why has the photo embarrassed you?

Uzma Aslam Khan a novelist and an essayist. She is the author of The Story of Noble Rot (PenguinIndia 2001) and Trespassing (Flamingo/ HarperCollins UK 2003; Metropolitan/Henry Holt USA 2004) and The Geometry of God (Rupa & Co. India 2008). Trespassing was shortlisted for the Commonwealth Writers' Prize Eurasia. She lives in Lahore, Pakistan. Visit her at http://uzmaaslamkhan. blogspot. com
Excellent question indeed.

No buyer's remorse for me.... said...

A second act for Illinois coal?

Coal fuels a debate over Obama

More broadly, Obama's contortions on coal point to the limits of the role he likes to assume, that of a unifier who can appeal across traditional lines and employ a "new kind of politics" to solve problems. In reaching out to the coal industry, some observers say, he may have been trying to show that he is a different sort of Democrat, but the gesture had the look of old-style politicking and put him in a corner, where he wound up alienating some on both sides of the issue.

"He was trying to throw a bone to the southern Illinois coal interests . . . and was surprised when people started saying, 'What the heck are you doing?' " said Frank O'Donnell, president of the environmental group Clean Air Watch. "That's a rookie mistake for a presidential candidate, to think you can get in the middle of a controversial issue and no one will notice."

I don't buy that he's had some sort of epiphany -- he's a slick politican, who "changes" with the wind.

no buyer's remorse for me.... said...

From Saladin's post above: It's probably you against Senator John McCain, and McCain ain't gonna change. Maybe you will.

Oh, he'll change all right. He does it with regularity. Faster than a speeding bullet...

David B. Benson said...

No buyer's remorse for me --- Yup. The more I learn the less I care for either of the DINOs.

I just like the Repugalist one whole h**l of a lot less...

David B. Benson said...

They are all just politicians.

All the statesmen, with backbone and principles, have all resigned, retired, or have left this mortal veil of tears...

no buyer's remorse for me.... said...

From a Harper's article by Ken Silverstein....

....After taking the call at his desk, Obama returned to the couch and took up the pork-barrel question again. He gave as an example President Bush’s Clear Skies Initiative, which he described as a difficult decision. After examining the legislation, he determined that it would significantly weaken the Clean Air Act, yet the administration claimed it would help the coal industry, a major economic force in southern Illinois. In the end, he opposed it because he decided it would have been more beneficial to western coal producers, not those in Illinois. “That kind of vote is a tough vote, not so much on the merits as it is on the politics,” he said. “I then have to spend a lot of time working that through with my constituents in southern Illinois, explaining to them why I did not think it was actually good for them.” Even so, he took heat at home, with one southern Illinois newspaper editorial saying that he was less interested in looking out for the interests of the state’s coal industry than he was in voting with the interests of Barbara Boxer and Hillary Clinton.

And what if he had determined that the Clear Skies Initiative would have aided Illinois coal? I asked. In that case, Obama said, “It would have been more difficult for me. . . . If I thought that it would have significantly helped Illinois coal but would have been a net minus for the environment, then you’ve got your classic legislative dilemma.”

......On condition of anonymity, one Washington lobbyist I spoke with was willing to point out the obvious: that big donors would not be helping out Obama if they didn’t see him as a “player.” The lobbyist added: “What’s the dollar value of a starry-eyed idealist?”

me again said...

Studs Terkel was right....we get a two foot midget, then along comes a two foot four inch midget, and we turn him into a giant.


David B. Benson said...

So need to use the internet and lots of volunteers to allow the politicians to be able to avoid the deep-pocket lobbiest. Then maybe will have some statesmen ("all men, male and female" (ca. 1760)) again.

Well, that is roughly what BHO's campaign has managed to put together. May be too late in his case...

David B. Benson said...

In the land of the blind, the one-eyed man is...

not sending my $$$$ said...

Not sure I understand your comment, Dr. B...

I recall that St. Barack was all for public financing for presidential campaigns until he found out how much dough he could rake in with his fundraising.

McCain said he'd forego the fundraising, at one point. Obama, at one point, said he'd forego fundraising when he got the nomination, if his Repub opponent agreed to do the same.

Wouldn't that be funny if McCain called him out on that.

not sending my $ said...

BHO gets money from the EMPLOYEES of big corporations. They are "encouraged" to kick in a donation by their bosses.

It is essentially money generated by lobbyists' activity.

His money is just as dirty as anyone else's.

carol said...

Anyone heard from Gerald? He hasn't posted since February 16. Been AWOL for a month now.

Hajji said...


Thanks for posting the "Winter Soldier" piece.

I just spent a few days with Spanky in Panama City Beach, FL...Spring break '08 Woo Hoo!

While his stories are, well, HIS to tell, the above retold are very similar.

He's doing pretty good, but he never knows when he'll revert to the reflexive state he lived in for a full year in Tal Afar, Mosul, Ramadi, etc.

He says that the biggest thing is not a fear for himself or his safety, but the first-hand knowledge what he, or any other human, for that matter, is capable of inflicting on another.

He can still have fun, if the photos on his digicam are any indication, BIG FUN! (I stayed close to the pool, hot-tub and my own little patch of beach...far too old for the "Gone Wild" silliness!)

But there is a coldness, a cruel streak and a hardness to him that we all wonder will ever soften.

He's got good support, better than most, in a brother that shared many of the same horrors, at a slightly earlier time and has better healthcare insurance than most returning vets, too. That makes a huge difference.

He's become quite a profound self-thinking young man and while I know there are parts of his mind that will always see beyond what I can fathom, conversations with him have taken on perspectives I'd've never imagined from him.

Anywhoo...thanks for the post, again.

Hajji said...

On the Spring Spring Sprung report.

I didn't even notice the system that passed here after beating up downtown Hotlanna last night.

Watching the weather radar from work today, though, was another story. One remembers the difference, at times like those, between a house on a solid foundation and the double-wide mansion in which we hove.

But, flashing-red patches barreling through, a couple of wash-outs on the driveway, a few de-limbed trees, a couple nervous tree-house dwelling goats, a dripping, bitchy donkey and 4 wet and anxious, but none the worse for wear dogs greeted me tonight.

More weather tonight...more tomorrow, they say...

Good day to stay inside and immerse in March's Madness!


DEN said...

NEW YORK - A crane mounted to the side of a skyscraper under construction toppled with a roar Saturday, smashing into a block of apartment buildings, killing at least four people and setting off a scramble for survivors in the rubble.

The crane split into pieces as it fell, pulverizing a four-story townhouse and demolishing parts of three other buildings. One man was pulled from the townhouse 3 1/2 hours after the building was crushed.

Mayor Michael Bloomberg said at least four people, believed to be construction workers, have died and at least 10 people were injured.


DEN said...

Hajji, your welcome.

War in any shape or form takes loving human beings and subjects them ot the worst humanity has to offer.

Sounds like Spanky has plenty of support, he like too many others have seen that up close and personal the bloody worst life has to offer, seriously wounding the very soul.

No one should ever have to do that.


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