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May 25, 2012

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If you haven't seen it, I recommend "Coriolanus" if you want to see who now leads this nation.

http://www.imdb.com/title/tt1372686/

Anymore, I'm having trouble figuring out what a "true patriot" is. Too many of the self-styled flag wavers tend to describe wars as noble or necessary ventures. Afghanistan will cost us something like 900 BILLION, not to mention the human casualties and ruined lives for both the Afghans and US. Seems like we've turned WAR into a long-running movie . . how sad!

Here,Here Jon, great piece!!!

Love the sinner, hate the sin.
Love the warrior, hate the war.

In our politically correct world, that is the new way.

I bet George Carlin would have phrased it differently.

In the popular imagination, war has been changed into a video game. Increased military control of media coverage has contributed to this. Lt. Col. Rick Long of the U.S. Marine Corps, explaining the theory behind "imbedded journalism", said "Frankly, our job is to win the war. Part of that is information warfare. So we are going to attempt to dominate the information environment." Images of wounded and dead U.S. soldiers, coffins, the maimed survivors of roadside bomb attacks who have had one or more limbs amputated, and other unsettling imagery, has been essentially censored in exchange for "access". The increased technologization of war also contributes to this effect, and is capitalized upon in military recruiting ads showing soldiers equipped with night-vision, laser-sights, body-armor, and other futuristic looking equipment which suggests that dead end, working-class kids need only sign-up in order to be transformed into powerful, ass-kicking cyborgs.

The very nature of modern warfare in many recent conflicts, with its reliance on air-power delivering death from a distance, and on fast-moving mechanized operations insulating soldiers behind inches of armor plating and wielding computer-controlled weapons, or high-powered rifles, artillery, and rockets used at a distance, instead of close-quarters combat or even urban, house-to-house fighting, puts psychological distance between soldiers (and potential soldiers) and the grim realities of war -- until the fateful day when a primitive but effective fertilizer-bomb blows someone's legs off. By then, it's too late, and all too easy to rationalize as the exception rather than the norm: to do otherwise is to become paralyzed with fear. War is not for feeling: that's what you do afterwards, when it's safe and you have time (perhaps lots of time, if you're unemployed) to think.

The Second World War was arguably the last that the U.S. fought as a matter of defence or national security; most conflicts are for the purpose of intervention. International law defines intervention as "dictatorial interference in the affairs of another state for the purpose of altering the condition of things." The purpose of intervention is to maintain hegemony, which is a state's ability to single-handedly dominate the rules and arrangements of international political and economic relations. The effect of military intervention is not only direct, but also indirect, as the demonstrated possibility of military intervention allows diplomatic and economic coercion. The threat must be unequivocal and compelling, and only regular demonstrations of both the will and the ability to conduct military intervention can accomplish this.

Meanwhile, large amounts of federal spending on military weaponry, readiness, and operations help prop up the economy; and deficit funded defense spending is the only form of Keynesianism that both parties recognize, though only implicitly. Maintenance, replacement and updating of expensive, technologically advanced equipment and arsenals is tremendously stimulating to the economy. The aerospace/defense sector is one of the last areas in the U.S. economy dominated by high-paying domestic manufacturing jobs, but it is largely reliant upon the patronage of the armed forces. To have a large standing army with high levels of defense spending over an extended period of decades, without actually using that equipment, invites budgetary cuts of a kind that doves can only dream of. It can only be justified if it is used, regularly, to demonstrate its continuing need.

From Wikipedia:

The VFW stated in a 2002 Memorial Day Address:

"Changing the date merely to create three-day weekends has undermined the very meaning of the day. No doubt, this has contributed a lot to the general public's nonchalant observance of Memorial Day."

...Memorial Day endures as a holiday which most businesses observe because it marks the unofficial beginning of summer.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Memorial_Day

But the date was only changed from May 30th to the last Monday in May. The argument that such a date change threw the public into confusion and sapped its enthusiasm, is preposterous.

Brilliant post, Emil. Thank you.

Brilliant

And least we forget.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Reunification_Day
April 30 Liberation Day/Reunification Day Ngày giải phóng Fall of Saigon and reunification of Vietnam in 1975
And

July 27 Remembrance Day (Day for Martyrs and Wounded Soldiers) Ngày thương binh liệt sĩ

My box of wine just ran out.

I've lost my will to live.

If you choose not to view Plutarch via Shakespeare, then try some Bobcat Goldthwait...

http://www.imdb.com/title/tt1912398/

Amen.

Here's an alka-seltzer for AZRebel, who wrote in a previous thread:

"Watching Book TV, some dude named Klare wrote a book about the fight over the remaining resources of the planet. He was asked his opinion on over-population. His answer, "I worry more about the over-population of cars, since they will double in the next decade". He then side-stepped the issue of over-population as too touchy. Therein lies the modern day environMENTALIST movement. All talk and no guts. TALK TALK TALK TALK TALK TALK TALK TALK."

Note that you are actually asking, not for less talk, but for more (if straighter) talk, on the subject of over-population.

Most of the projected population growth in the coming decades is in sub-saharan Africa. It doesn't pose the global scale problems of pollution, climate change, and scarcity of resources that, say, China does, because sub-saharan Africa doesn't have much in the way of industrial infrastructure, nor is it rapidly converting a population of peasant farmers into a modern consumer society. Environmental problems result not from population growth -- China's population grew for centuries without causing environmental problems -- but from growth of industrial production and consumption, and from the comparatively dirty and unregulated industrial methods that developing countries like China rely on.

China is the world's number one polluter. China is now the second largest car market in the world, ahead of Japan, with just over 100 million cars on the road -- and that doesn't include 119 million additional motorcycles. China's de facto emission standards are abysmal. According to Ming Ouyang, Head of the Department of Automotive Engineering at Tsinghua University, the number of cars on China's roads are predicted to triple to 300 million within 15 to 20 years.

http://www.oats.co.uk/lubes-resource-centre/environment-and-regulatory-watch/article-613/china-now-has-100-million-cars/

A massive expansion of domestic consumption there means BIG problems of global pollution, global warming and other climate change, and scarcity of global resources; and to the extent that a "tipping point" for global warming exists, any increase in global greenhouse gas emissions is potentially disastrous.

The population of China is only projected to grow by 3.9 percent from 2010 to 2030, or about 52 billion more than its 2010 population of 1,341 billion. Contrast this with Nigeria, whose population of 158 billion is expected to grow by 63 percent or nearly 100 billion over the same period.

According to recent United Nations projections, "Between 2011 and 2100, the populations of 32 countries, the majority of which are least developed, will triple or more. Among them, the populations of Burkina Faso, Malawi, Mali, Niger, Somalia, Uganda, United Republic of Tanzania and Zambia are projected to increase by 500 per cent or more by 2100."

Despite large projected population growth in India (I'll deal with that separately) from 2011 to 2050 Africa is the only region expected to have an increased percentage of the world population: all others either remain flat or decline. See for example Table I.2 Percentage Distribution of the World Population by Development Group and Major Area:

http://esa.un.org/unpd/wpp/Documentation/pdf/WPP2010_Volume-I_Comprehensive-Tables.pdf

Non-developing countries in sub-saharan Africa that experience population booms may face mass starvation and death (the usual way "nature" controls overpopulation) but that won't be an "environmental" issue.

If the past is a predictor of the future, humanitarian relief there may be complicated by corrupt, intractable governments, civil wars, criminal militias, and tribal conflicts, which are often major causes of mass civilian dislocation and starvation, rather than population increase per se. As for military intervention, how did that Somalia thing back in the 1990s work out for you?

India is a special case. Its population in 2010 was 1,224 billion: its projected population in 2030 is 1,523 for an increase of nearly 25 percent or 300 billion (the current population size of the United States). To the extent that India follows a China-like path of development, this is potentially disastrous.

Aside from the fact that global environmental problems result from development rather than population growth per se, Klare was probably reluctant to be drawn into discussion of an issue that, unlike automobiles, lacks a palatable policy solution, particularly one that can be implimented unilaterally. Quite aside from moral questions, forced sterilization violates international law and would require bloody wars of occupation and subjugation to impliment.

Who would you soundlessly grab by the collar and shake into submission, or plug at 40 yards, to solve what you call the problem of overpopulation? What if anything do you propose be DONE? If you have any genius ideas, now is the time to trot 'em out.

Emil,

You mixed up some of your m's and b's in your millions and billions.

I know you would yell at us if we hadn't noticed.

Emil@ "What if anything do you propose be DONE?

Are you familiar with that river in Africa, where the wildebeast herds cross while the crocs lie in wait for them?

1. I'd have the whole US congress cross the river single file. Those who make it across win the chance to cross back again.

2. After step one, I will have done my part. Now the rest of you can come up with your own ideas.

Salt peter

I've struggled with the idea of patriotism for years. Tonight, I thought I'd look it up.
Webster's New Universal Unabridged Dictionary, Deluxe Second Edition defines a Patriot as: A person who loves and loyally or zealously supports his own country.
Oh, I see some of the problems here. I don't love my country, or at least not its government. I have a great deal of respect for many of the founders and the documents that they wrote and the process they provided to keep it current and relevant. Most of those people also did things I don't respect. The same goes for many people in the government from then down to today. Some I respect and some I revile and none do I love.
"Zealously supports" is worse since it strongly implies blindness and "my country right or wrong" and I can't support that. I want my country to right as often as possible and when it turns out that we're wrong I want us to admit it and make reparations and to prevent that mistake from happening again.
"Loyally supports" is not as bad as "zealously" but the same dictionary defines 'loyal' with variations of the word 'faith.' Faith is defined as 1. unquestioning belief. So I cannot agree to faith or loyalty if I must be unquestioning.
Finally "his own country" has a few issues besides the gender statement, but I won't go into them now.
I don't think that rejecting the label of patriot makes me a bad citizen. I think this country, and every country, need people who don't blindly follow but instead think about causes and effects and options and the long term. I think this country, and every country, needs people who will use the tools of the present with a clear understanding of the past to make a future that is better still.

Buford. Good post. i agree. In 59 I deserted american patriotism. At 72 what little patriotism I can muster i spend on the planet earth.

"Who would you soundlessly grab by the collar and shake into submission, or plug at 40 yards, to solve what you call the problem of overpopulation?"

The math doesn't work. There aren't enough of us who practice self-restraint to prevent the hordes from overwhelming us. Still, I would begin with Mitt Romney as a prominent example of undisciplined progeneration and consumption.

Welcome back Kotter or Soleri's Coochie. whar u bin?

Thinking more about patriotism: I loved my country when it pulled together and won WWII for a legitimate cause. I was progressively dumbstruck when it bumbled into Korea,'Nam, Iraq and Afghanistan . . learning little or nothing along the way. Today, when I fly the flag, I do so mostly to honor our war dead and commemorate our nobler ventures. Other than this blog, I keep these feelings to myself.

Momentum, a force which leaves me awestruck.

Momentum, mass times velocity.

Once momentum gets going, it's hard to stop.

This Memorial Day, as we "remember" those who served, we watch as momentum carries us forward to other wars, more deaths, more destruction. (Iran)

7,000,000,000 people. We discuss overpopulation. Aids. Wars. Famine.

7,000,000,001 people. Momentum.

Big government. Democrats. Republicans. Everyone has a plan to stop the growth of big government.

Government keeps getting bigger. Momentum.

Military Industrial Complex. $500 billion, $600 billion, $700 billion.
Momentum.

Climate. Who do we blame, cars? Factories? Volcanos? Sun?
CO2 keeps on keeping on. Can we turn a planet around? Momentum.

What happens if something has sufficient mass and sufficient velocity and you step in front of it to try to stop it?

It's gonna hurt. Momentum.

Azrebel how about i bring u a case of tecate?
that help ur movement?

No one seems to want to go where Rogue's post points. So I will:

*Bring back the draft. Now.*

Here's why:

1) Having a volunteer army makes it too easy to go to war in countries renowned for their quicksand and their lack of McDonalds. Since the children of ordinary citizens aren't being yanked to Ubek-abek-abek-abekistan, there really is no public skin in the game. Starting a war with drafted soldiers is a higher bar for hawks and chickenhawks to fly over. It is a "check" on the balance of "war power".

2) Drafting kids from every state, gender, and economic bracket into service breaks down the "Big Sort" and forces a leveling discipline on everyone. All are now responsible for the "defense" of the country. This seems a smart thing to do for various moral and social reasons.

3) The all volunteer army makes for professional soldiers who end up thinking the American public owes them for "their service". This is not because the American soldier is particularly evil, it is because of the way the system is gamed. In fact the game has become a knee-jerk circle: they reenlist and reenlist (getting signing bonuses) and the American public excessively and obediently "thanks them for their service".

If you don't "thank them for their service" you are a commie, ingrate, atheist, liberal who should be tortured and shot. In other words: there is no social push back on what we "owe" our warriors. Funny how no one seems to thank the janitor who cleans the toilets at the public school down the block for "his service". Why should killing germs be less important than killing Arabs?

As a side note: Anybody know how many "generals" we now are paying for? The Services have become top-heavy with Brass on sinecures.

In conclusion:

If Romney is elected, I expect at least 1 trillion in Iran war costs. Excessive war debt (weaponry) is the sure way to slit the throat of "entitlements" (livingry). That's the right-wings' "killer" coup d'etat.

Am I saying that Republicans would actually start an avoidable war in Iran simply to drive up the debt and make Medicare and Social Security too costly; while simultaneously enriching military-industrial companies that send kickbacks to their campaign coffers?

Absolutely.

I could be wrong about modern core Republican values, but I'll need to see some proof. Until proof arrives, my fear of the war the Republicans will start with Iran is *my number one reason* to vote for Mr. Obama.

Lastly in retrospect for homework: What were the forces and who were the people and parties that forced the end of the draft? What year did that happen? Does this correlate with any visible social trends?

http://delong.typepad.com/sdj/2012/05/and-the-band-played-waltzing-matilda.html

Koreyel, thanks for your excellent post.
I agree with your views. At 72 years I well recall the draft. At 19 I was a young Republican capitalist that rather than be drafted into the army and instead of leaving the US, I chose to be an Air Force medic.

So are todays military enlistee's veterans or are they people who wanted or needed a job? Or had little other choice?

"Emil,

"You mixed up some of your m's and b's in your millions and billions."

Quite right -- all of the "billions" in the population statistics should read "millions" -- and thank you sincerely for this correction. I'd appreciate it at any time, but I especially appreciate it while I'm trying to get a handle on what appears to be incipient dementia.

"I know you would yell at us if we hadn't noticed."

Not so. I believe I simply observed, with some surprise, on one previous occasion, having made a similar error (writing that Democrats controlled the "Senate", rather than the House, until 1981) that "nobody corrected me".

What I might yell at you for is your misrepresentation of this as "yelling". As amazing as it might seem to you, I actually want to improve myself, and don't pule like an infant whenever an error is brought to my attention, provided that this is done without rancor or ridicule and as a simple observation of fact rather than an attempt to waste my time with pettifoggery.

I disagree that Mr. Talton's essay points toward reinstating the draft. At any rate, evidently this isn't the first time that the suggestion has been made (koreyel) in recent years. I found this letter to the editor searching through the Internet, which was apparently originally written to the ASU West campus newspaper. It seems too well written to do anything other than quote verbatim:

* * *

Alex Ginsburg thinks that bringing back the draft will: (a) restore egalitarianism to U.S. military service; (b) eliminate unnecessary military actions and casualties; (c) teach the youth of America to become productive citizens.

Evidently he needs a class in U.S. history. The last time the draft was in effect was during the Vietnam War. That draft was riddled with loopholes, including deferments for university students -- and guess which socioeconomic segment that benefits? The reasoning behind the elimination of the draft was that, never again would the government be able to send the country's youth, involuntarily, to fight unpopular and unnecessary wars. Now, in the aftermath of a prolonged conflict in Iraq, also unnecessary and originated on the basis of claims which turned out to be government propaganda, suggestions are being made to reinstate the draft. The only thing this would accomplish would be to turn a volunteer army into an involuntary one, thereby insuring that the ranks of cannon fodder would substantially grow (troop increases, anyone?).

Even if a new draft was, miraculously, without bias toward any socioeconomic group, does Mr. Ginsburg really think that the experience will teach "the skills to take part in successful careers"? Is that really what the Army teaches? Here's a simple exercise in creative visualization for Mr. Ginsburg to try: You have just graduated from high-school. You have been accepted at a major university, where you intend to pursue the education necessary for attaining a professional career in the arts or sciences. Instead, your government, using the usual excuses and lies, decides to send you to some fleabitten foreign land, to serve abstract U.S. foreign policy goals having nothing to do with the defense of U.S. soil. For several years, you waste away, forgetting your academic lessons and studies, eating bad food, surrounded by reactionary morons, mindlessly taking orders from incompetents, spending long periods lounging about, playing cards, bored to tears and homesick, with no girlfriend or family -- punctuated by short but terrifying periods where you are shot at, ambushed, and bombed, often without ever being able to see your enemies. Maybe, to cope with it, you drink a lot or even abuse drugs.

Finally, you return to the United States and are expected to resume an ordinary, structured, academic existence, applying yourself to intellectual work whose very fundamentals you have forgotten after being alternately bored/pounded in a trench for years at a time. Has your experience overseas encouraged good study habits, or the skills of a successful career (assuming you don't plan to become a professional sniper or infantryman)? Do you think being molded into an unquestioning, order-taking machine of death has prepared you to play a constructive, responsible, well-informed role as a member of society? Of course, you may have have lost a limb or two, or have contracted some mysterious malady which the U.S. government will refuse to accept responsibility for until decades later, but you will be well compensated because you can watch the videotapes of the talking heads on Fox News praising the troops.

The fact of the matter is that, should a draft ever actually be required, it can be instituted overnight. I would expect that, in the event of a foreign government launching a major military attack (e.g., Pearl Harbor), there would be no problem requisitioning troops. In the meantime, why should we make it any easier for the government to pursue "diplomacy through other means"?

Koryel-
As I recall, the high school class of 1972 was the last to be drafted. I was in the class of 1973. Like Cal Lash I was looking at all the options, but didn't have to choose one. I was registered but was never called.
I can't tell you much about the political forces at work at the time because I was a teenager then and it was never my era of interest later in life.

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