This Must Not Stand!
October 6, 2013

This morning NPR/KQED did a program on the Vietnam Wall. I caught some of it. I get emotional over that time. People I knew died in that war. Their names stand on that massive black granite. That was my time, my youth. It sticks with me. It sticks in my throat. It brings tears to my eyes today. And I look at the country today and I think ‘What did they die for?’ Never mind that it was a misbegotten war. At bottom those men fought not against some vague Communist threat, but for a vision of America as a good, decent place where the ideal was equality and fairness for everyone, a place where everyone had a fair and just chance to make their life into whatever they wanted.

No more.

The country has become a cesspool of vile and ugly politics and greed and hatred. The politicians have sold their souls to the rich and the rich want everything else too. They want to live with their boot on the neck of the poor, of the workers, of the middle class. They degrade education so they won’t be challenged by people who can think, so they can provide a steady stream of mindless drones for their minimum wage jobs.

The men who died in Vietnam didn’t die so the Koch brothers and their kind could turn America into a fascist fantasyland. They didn’t die for Exxon to pollute the land and the air and the water for obscene profits. They didn’t die for a bunch of Tea Party ignoramuses and bigots to corrupt the political process with their ignorance and hatred.

But that’s where we are today. It is disgusting. This isn’t the America any soldier died for. This is an America of lies and greed and deceit. This is an America whose vision has been corrupted by small-minded men and women who trade in lies and greed and deceit to feather their own nests at the expense of every working man and woman, of every man and woman struggling to make a good and decent life for their family, of every man and woman battling for a decent education and a fair chance to build the life they want.

This is an America whose vision has been corrupted by hatred, by racism, by bigotry against the poor and the disadvantaged, by the hatred, the racism, and the bigotry of a small group of politicians and rich men who care nothing for the country and whose every thought they direct at taking everything they can get their manicured, soft hands on, taking everything they can from the poor, from the workers, from the people who made it possible for the rich to wallow in their excesses of wealth.

This cannot stand.

It must not stand.

If it stands there will be blood in the streets, there will be wailing in the nights, there will be a genuine war that will make the bloodbath of the American Civil War look like a picnic, the draft riots of that time like afternoon tea on the lawn, and from abroad people of other nations will see an America writhing in madness and insanity. And all so a few people, a handful of rich people and their kneeling servants in Congress, in every political system in America, can get for themselves more, and more, and more.

This cannot stand.

It must not stand.

It must not.

In the name of every man and woman who has died or been torn up fighting for a proud vision of a free and democratic America, this must not stand.

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Domino Theory Redux, By Obama
September 11, 2013

And by the way, all that talk by Obama about if we don’t stop Assad from using chemical weapons, then other countries will use them and Iran will get a nuclear bomb and blow up Washington, yeah, that’s the same nonsense that the Johnson Administration used to lie the country into Vietnam.

It’s called the Domino Theory. It was false then and it’s false now.

In fact, the only domino game being played right now is the one the United States is playing as it knocks down countries around Iran. Iraq. Afghanistan. Syria. And if you add in the countries in Africa and South Asia and the Middle East where the United States is murdering people with drones and without legitimate reason, yeah, looks a lot like the United States is playing Death Dominoes with the lives of millions of people.

But of course the United States is the good guy, right, and it gets to set the rules, right? Right?

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“Never Again!”–Well, Except Maybe This Time Because It’s Special… Syria.
April 5, 2012

Syria.

Syria, run by a psychopathic mass murderer and liar operating an army that drags children out into the street and cuts their throats, that drags old men into the street and shoots them in the head, that unleashes furious artillery bombardments on civilians, on Syrians – Syria, a blood-drenched span of territory that exposes the moral failure and cravenness of the Western European countries and the Arab world.

Never mind Russia and China’s objections. They understand Bashar al Assad. He’s doing what they do when they decide it’s necessary. The rule is to kill and keep killing until nobody is left to fight back. By their lights and their morality Assad is a piker, a ten-cent killer.

But the West?

Time and again the West and the Arab nations have taken Assad’s word that he would call off the murder of civilians, and time and again he has lied and continued the slaughter.

And the American State Department? They talk of two things. Graduated sanctions and stability. Nonsense on both counts.

Sanctions haven’t slowed down the killing. And if Assad wins out, crushing the opposition, what then of the precious sanctions? Keep them in place and further crush the Syrian people while Assad eats caviar and orders movies from Amazon? Or remove them and concede victory to a mass murderer?

And then there’s stability. That’s a big word with the State Department. We can’t arm the opposition, say the suits, because that might destabilize the country and the region. Apparently they don’t follow the news or read their own cable traffic.

The region hasn’t been stable since our own psychopathic killer, George W. Bush, illegally invaded Iraq nine years ago. And Syria is not going to be stable until Assad slaughters a few hundred thousand of his fellow Syrians.

State’s other big selling point is ‘We can’t arm the opposition because we don’t know what will come of it.’ Oh, well perhaps they know what will come of the ongoing slaughter? It seems they define certainty as continued slaughter by Assad until he is firmly in charge again.

The Arab world is no better. As has been pointed out elsewhere, the United States has armed to the teeth several Arab countries, and yet those arms sit quietly, unused, while the Arab leadership decries the murderous bloodbath in Syria.

And the United States itself? A complete moral failure compounded with rank hypocrisy. The West took on Libya with little delay, but Syria? Oh, the terrain is difficult there. And the military is kind of tough.

Did you ever notice that the only countries the United States is willing to take on militarily are weak, if not pathetic, militarily. Panama. Grenada. Vietnam. Iraq. Afghanistan. Libya. The vaunted American military machine has shown that it can be stopped by little brown people armed with AKs and homemade explosives. The Syrian army is a different kettle of fish, isn’t it, Generals?

But this American military machine, backed by a vast and vastly expensive intelligence machine (turned against its own people of late), can’t take its million dollar cruise missiles and put them on Assad’s head and on his family’s heads and on the heads of the generals who murder children in the streets of Homs? That hugely expensive and expansive military machine of the Americans can’t send its billion dollar invisible bombers over Syria and cripple the tank columns of the Syrian army, smash command and control installations, flatten military supply dumps?

Apparently not. That might destabilize the country.

Here in America we make guns freely available to any creep, cretin, or violent moron who wants one. But we can’t provide small arms to people fighting for their lives in Syria? Because we can’t see the future? Because they might decide that the United States is crap and not to be trusted?

With this kind of thinking the Holocaust would have gone on until every Jew in the world was ashes; Rwanda would still be going on… oh, wait, nobody did anything to stop that either – they just ran out of people to hack to death; the Balkans would to this day be bathing in enough blood to satisfy even the depraved Countess Elizabeth Bathory. And on. And on. And on.

‘Never again!’ is a joke. It’s a phrase used by politicians and people everywhere to make themselves feel better when they haven’t the guts or the moral courage to do what’s right. It’s what they say when it’s happening, again, right under their noses. It’s their magic charm to ward off evil while they delicately and mincingly step around the pools of blood.

Syria will bleed and nobody with the power to stop it will lift a finger. And soon enough Bashar al Assad will again hobnob with the heads of state in the West and the Arab world. And no one will hear the blood of children crying out from the sands of Syria.

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Stupid Is As Stupid Does, And America Does It
September 15, 2008

From a 2006 essay titled ‘History and National Stupidity’ by Arthur Schlesinger, quoted in Susan Jacoby’s The Age of American Unreason:

Sometimes, when I am particularly depressed, I ascribe our behavior to stupidity – the stupidity of our leadership, the stupidity of our culture. Thirty years ago we suffered military defeat – fighting an unwinnable war against a country about which we knew nothing . . . Vietnam was bad enough, but to repeat the same experiment thirty years later in Iraq is a strong argument for a case of national stupidity.

In the meantime, let a thousand historical flowers bloom. History is never a closed book or a final verdict. It is always in the making. Let historians not forsake the quest for knowledge, however tricky and full of problems that quest may be, in the interests of an ideology, a nation, a race, a sex, or a cause. The great strength of the practice of history in a free society is its capacity for self-correction.

Of course, it would help if Americans would actually read history, instead of getting it in predigested chunks in Rambo movies and the History Channel. It would help if Americans actually were taught to think in school instead of just to fill in the multiple-choice answers that pass for educational assessment these days. It would help if the media acted as if they actually had a responsibility to the country, to the citizenry, instead of to shareholders who don’t give a damn about either the media or the country.

But that’s asking too much these days. The Republicans put forth two world-class liars and hypocrites to lead the nation into the future, and they are applauded for the trivia of their lives and minds instead of examined for their substance. We are beyond national stupidity, and are well into delusion and psychosis.