1st Lt. Milo Minderbinder
“We’re gonna come out of this war rich!”
“You’re gonna come out rich. We’re gonna come out dead.”
-From the Buck Henry screenplay of Catch 22
No one has captured the absurd spirit of US war-making better than Joseph Heller in Catch 22. Here’s one of the greatest literary symbols for capitalism, Milo Minderbinder, on the future of US warfare:
“In a democracy, the government is the people,” Milo explained. “We’re people, aren’t we? So we might just as well keep the money and eliminate the middleman. Frankly, I’d like to see the government get out of war altogether and leave the whole field to private industry.”
General Fonseka quit the military after the May 2009 defeat of the Liberation Tigers for Tamil Eelam (LTTE), and ran for the presidency in January, 2010. He came in second, losing to the incumbent, Rajapakse. The former war hero was then promptly arrested and remains in military detention, charged with corruption and politicking while in uniform. Mahinda Rajapakse, together with Gotbhaya and two other brothers—who also hold key government posts—are reportedly furious with Fonseka for an interview he did with The Sunday Leader, and for his assertion that two of those brothers, Gotabhaya and presidential adviser Basil, had issued the orders that “all LTTE leaders must be killed.”
Tamils claim the four brothers’ actions are just the latest chapter of a long history of Sinhalese government-sponsored genocide against them.
Last March I went to the Left Forum in New York, which is a yearly gathering of liberals, progressives, anarchists, socialists, communists, hippies, punks, mystics, conspiracy theorists and anti-conspiracy theorists who are all trying to figure out how to get to a decent future from the indecent present. Nobody, of course, knows how to do that. There may not even be a path to a decent future from the indecent present, but I always find the Left Forum hopeful because a few thousand people in one place are at least putting their minds to the problem.
The panel discussion I most wanted to see (out of 300 or so) was called “The Crisis That Gives the Capitalist Class Nightmares,” because Michael Hudson was speaking. Whenever Hudson writes something, I read it, because he’s one of a tiny number of economists with academic credentials who predicted the present debt crisis. (Apparently not predicting crises is necessary for tenure in most economic departments these days.) At the panel, he explained that when labor is squeezed to the point that it can’t purchase anything, the capitalist is left with nothing to invest in, except more debt, and so we end up with Wall Street creating ever more complicated, ever more leveraged, ever more worthless junk for its gambling habit. When this collapses, as it must, half the hospitals in Latvia (which Hudson advises) have to shut down for lack of funds.
(From the AARP Magazine, May/June 2010 issue)
The true cost of American wars is much higher than what is spent in Supplemental Appropriations each year. It is also the cost of permanent medical care for the troops who are sent overseas to kill and who come home maimed in body and mind–and their loved ones. Over the years Congress has passed bills granting veterans generous benefits, but it doesn’t publicize them, and it doesn’t always make them easy to get, either–Dave
Last Memorial Day, Sue Christensen had a revelation. A retired nurse administrator, Christensen, then 83, was laying a wreath at the veterans’ monument in East Norriton, Pennsylvania, when she heard a speaker at the remembrance ceremony say that many vets suffer lingering problems from their wartime service—and don’t realize they could receive help from the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA). “It suddenly hit me,” recalls Christensen. “For 57 years I’ve suffered from panic attacks. Could it be from my time in the Navy?”
Is it coincidence or conspiracy?
Supporters of five Cuban intelligence agents now serving lengthy sentences in US federal prison following controversial espionage convictions, say federal government documents detailing payments made by a US government-run anti-Castro propaganda operation to prominent Miami-area journalists prove a conspiracy.
Articles by those journalists and others, a federal appeals court once noted, contributed significantly to inflaming “pervasive community prejudice” in Miami which made it impossible for the agents known as the Cuban Five to receive a fair trial.
It’s like entering a minefield to seriously discuss Israel and Palestine, a tale of two peoples who claim the same land.
I’ve entered this minefield before and have been called an ”anti-semite” and an “Israel hater” for saying pretty much what the sentence above suggests, that Palestinians feel a legitimate bond with the land Israel claims and holds with its military prowess. The individual who called me those names is an antiwar liberal on everything but Israel, at which point he becomes a jackboot militarist without a shred of mercy.
The Texas State Board of Education is a lot like the weather. Everyone talks about it, nobody does anything about it.
Except Judy Jennings. She’s running for the Texas State Board of Education in District 10, which stretches in vast zigzags from the ‘burbs of Austin to the ‘burbs of Houston. In area, it is bigger than 12 states. It was gerrymandered by Tom Delay to include lots of Republicans. Jennings is a Democrat. She thinks that public education is a good idea, that actual science should be taught in science classes supported by tax dollars, and that the Texas State Board of Education should not be a laughingstock in large newspapers and small blogs around the world.
Like the cop who batters someone senseless at a demonstration and then accuses the victim of “banging his head against my baton,” Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has accused the victims of Israel’s brutal military assault on a peace convoy to Gaza of attacking Israeli soldiers. An Israeli deputy ambassador to the UN went further, saying, “What kind of peace activists use knives, clubs and other weapons to attack soldiers who board a ship in accordance with international law?”
Let’s straighten this out. The question to be asked is: what kind of country
sends heavily armed troops to assault a boat filled with unarmed, peaceful civilians, and slaughters nine or more of them as if they were enemy troops in a war zone?
From Unsilent Generation
On June 5, 1944, the eve of the largest invasion in history, General Dwight Eisenhower visited the English airfield where paratroopers were preparing to take off for their drop into France. “Quit worrying, General,” one of the soldiers told him. “We’ll take care of this thing for you.’’ The following day, 175,000 men landed on the beaches and fields of Normandy.
It’s Memorial Day Weekend and I am sick to death of the glorification of war in America.
And I am even sicker of politicians who wrap themselves in the bloody flag and try to rub off some of the stench of death from the bodies of those who have died, mostly in vain for worthless causes, in hopes that taking on some of the odor will cause them to be perceived as admirable patriots themselves.
President George W. Bush, who dodged danger in the Vietnam War by signing up for the Texas National Guard and then ducked even that domestic duty, and Vice President Dick Cheney who used five different excuses to duck military service, morbidly rubbed themselves with that flag for eight long years, even as they sent hundreds of thousands of young men and women into harm’s for their own personal political advantage.
President Barack Obama (who also avoided military service), continued this obscene tradition when, in his weekly PR address to the nation, he urged Americans to “leave a flower” on the grave of a soldier who died in one of America’s wars “so the rest of us might inherit the blessings of this nation.” Obama is also sending young Americans to kill and die halfway around the world in a war that has no purpose other than to demonstrate his political “toughness.” Yet he disingenuously declares that it was “to preserve America and advance the ideals we cherish” that “led patriots in each generation to sacrifice their own lives to secure the life of our nation, from the trenches of World War I to the battles of World War II, from Inchon and Khe Sanh, from Mosul to Marja.”
What utter crap and nonsense!