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A Man’s Got to Know His Limitations: Reflections on the Ignorance and Incompetence of the President and his Enablers

Friends of Padre Steve’s World,

Our President is a businessman, a man who claims all sorts of achievements but never owns up to his repeated failures, whether they be business, moral, personal, or now his often demonstrated gross incompetence as President.

We have long known that the President both narcissistic and paranoid character traits. Anyone who has observed his antics over the years has seen them displayed time and time again; but he has covered those character flaws with his self-promotion of his business acumen and superior leadership that make him the ultimate deal-maker, and he did such a great job of marketing that myth that many people actually believed it to be true. This certainly was a factor in his election.

As a businessman at the helm of his family owned empire it was easy for him to promote the myth, but now he is attempting to run the government of the most powerful nation on earth as if it were that business, rules seemingly do not apply to him, he behaves as if he is above the law, and many of his followers treat him as if he is the law. Trump and his followers are acting out the Fuhrer Prinzip or leader principle of Adolf Hitler before our eyes and people who should know better are allowing it to happen.

Rudolf Hess said of Hitler something I have heard repeated by Trump propagandists and Evangelical preachers who support Trump: “Hitler is Germany and Germany is Hitler. Whatever he does is necessary. Whatever he does is successful. Clearly the Führer has divine blessing.” I have lost count of the number of times I have seen and heard people say similar things about the President. Even members of Republican Congressional leaders seem willing to surrender their branch to the whim of the Trump’s executive, as House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy said just a week ago that Congress “serves at the pleasure of the President.”  I’m sorry but the Congress is not the Reichstag of 1933 but rather a co-equal branch of government as founders in their wisdom made it in the Constitution. But many other Republicans in Congress, in statehouses, in the right wing propaganda machine and on the street seem willing to concede Hess’s understanding of Hitler’s rule to Trump. What Trump does is necessary, it is right, and for many of his Evangelical Christian followers it has the blessing of God.

And Trump himself approves of this adulation, and he believes it; in fact he revels in it with every tweet and every interview that he gives. There is nothing that he does in his mind that is not the best, the greatest, or whatever superlative he decides to attach to his action of the moment. He had no capacity of reflection, no tolerance for dissent, and no ability to even receive constructive criticism from his advisers. He demonstrates that he is incompetent when it comes to governance, that he is ignorant of the Constitution, of history, and of policy; and he is too arrogant and ignorant to recognize this fact. The latest exposure of classified information to the Russians, intelligence which reportedly came from Israel regarding the Islamic State, shows how reckless and incompetent that he is. It may not have been illegal, but it certainly wasn’t smart, and the act probably violated his Oath of Office. I honestly don’t think that he set out to do that but he has no impulse control, he needs to show that he is important, and he needs to show off that importance by bragging about what he knows, and now that he has done it and has been exposed he rushes to justify the action and send out his aides to defend it because he cannot be wrong, the Fuhrer must always be right. Those who do his bidding will one day find out like members of the German military, civil service, police, and even the SS that ultimately that their loyalty to the Fuhrer cannot and will not be repaid, and that their reputation and honor will forever be soiled.

Back in August 50 Republican National Security experts wrote this public letter to express their concern about the President.

In our experience, a President must be willing to listen to his advisers and department heads; must encourage consideration of conflicting views; and must acknowledge errors and learn from them. A President must be disciplined, control emotions, and act only after reflection and careful deliberation. A President must maintain cordial relationships with leaders of countries of different backgrounds and must have their respect and trust. In our judgment, Mr. Trump has none of these critical qualities. He is unable or unwilling to separate truth from falsehood. He does not encourage conflicting views. He lacks self-control and acts impetuously. He cannot tolerate personal criticism. He has alarmed our closest allies with his erratic behavior. All of these are dangerous qualities in an individual who aspires to be President and Commander in-Chief, with command of the U.S. nuclear arsenal.

The President has so deceived himself over the course of his life that he honestly believes that he understands everything better than anyone while failing to recognize his own limitations. As “Dirty Harry Callahan” once said, “a man’s got to know his limitations.” Our President neither knows his nor cares, and will continue to do so until his incompetence destroys him or possibly our nation as well.

So until tomorrow,

Peace

Padre Steve+

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Filed under History, leadership, nazi germany, News and current events, Political Commentary

The Continuing Racket of the War Profiteers

 war-business

 

What is the cost of war? what is the bill? Major General Smedley Butler wrote: “This bill renders a horrible accounting. Newly placed gravestones. Mangled bodies. Shattered minds. Broken hearts and homes. Economic instability. Depression and all of its attendant miseries. Back -breaking taxation for generations and generations. For a great many years as a soldier I had a suspicion that war was a racket; not only until I retired to civilian life did I fully realize it….”

With all the domestic political news and the apocalyptic talk and actions surrounding John Roberts the Supreme Court and Obamacare it is hard to believe that we are at war for over 10 years and are at war or now preparing for war all over the Middle East. Iraq, Iran, Syria, Afghanistan, Yemen, Somalia, the Persian Gulf, Libya, Egypt, Pakistan, you name the place there is a real a present danger of US forces becoming involved in even more war. The Trinity of Evil, those Politicians, Pundits and Preachers and over 60% of Americans now are in favor of sending in ground troops to fight the Islamic State.

There are no statesmen left in Washington DC only shills of the Right and Left and their masters from Wall Street to K Street. The only people profiting from this are the war profiteers who even if the budget gets cut and they fail to deliver usable weapon systems on time or in budget will still get paid. The losers will be the military personnel who must fight the wars who will get tossed onto the street by those that claim that personnel costs are the problem. Of course those that make this point are almost always the same lobbyists that shill for the defense industries and the banks. But enough about them.

Right now tens of thousands of American military personnel and other Department of Defense, Federal law enforcement, intelligence, diplomatic, humanitarian workers as well as contractors in Afghanistan. Tens of thousands more (mostly contractors)  are helping to shore up the Iraqi government against the Islamic State or are fighting wars by other names in Pakistan, Yemen, the Horn of Africa.  Others are deployed to counter Iran or standing by to assist other allies should the conflict in Iraq and Syria spill over the boarders. Of course this does not take into account the instability in Egypt, Libya, Eastern and Central Africa that threatens even more war or the potential of turmoil in Europe, especially the Ukraine. Likewise a crisis with the Euro Crisis could bring about more financial disasters or even revolutions in countries that are our allies. By the way let’s not forget about the nutcase leaders of North Korea who could provoke war on that side of the world in a heartbeat.

But never mind this, let’s fight each other instead threaten insurrection when we don’t get our way. But wait, I digress…

Did you know that while Americans stand in harms way almost every real or potential enemy has been armed, subsidized or assisted by American corporations and paid for by American tax dollars.  We have armed much of the world with weapons that have already in Iraq and Afghanistan killed thousands of American military personnel. But those were small time weapons compared to what we have provided to Egypt, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia and yes even Israel. F-15, F-16 and F-18 fighter planes, Tomahawk cruise missiles and Harpoon Anti-Ship Missiles, M-1 Tanks, M113 Fighting vehicles, Patriot Air Defense systems, you name the weapons system the war profiteers will sell it and US taxpayers will pay for it. These are weapons that very easily could be used with great effect to attack American interests should leaders in any of those countries decide to use them against us. I only include Israel because in 1967 its forces viciously attacked the USS Liberty which was operating in the Eastern Mediterranean Sea as Israel launched its pre-emptive war against Egypt. Although all of these countries are “allies” we must remember that alliances are only as good as the interests and values that unite nations.

Our defense industries with the support of the government sell advanced weapons to nations that often are less than trustworthy allies, allies of convenience that have little love for the United States but welcome the weapons and training that we provide.  They often use them to suppress the aspirations of their own people and plant the cultivate the seeds of radicalism and revolution.  It is hard not to cringe when pro-democracy protestors are killed by totalitarian regimes whose police and military are armed to the teeth with American made weapons. When those totalitarian regimes fall as did that of the Shah of Iran in 1979 those weapons fall into the hands of people radicalized against us by our support of their former oppressors.

Certainly nobody seriously believes that the angry masses in the countries that we have armed to the teeth with the latest in American weaponry would not use that weaponry against us should they desire.  But wait…. our politicians, arms dealers, bankers and their political, religious and financial backers certainly wouldn’t put Americans in harms way? Perish the thought, but not so quickly. They have done so before and will do it again.

Smedley Butler is one of under two dozen American military personnel to win the Congressional Medal of Honor twice. He saw the dangers of Fascism as well as the danger of unlimited corporate and business power to profit by war. Butler was not only a  valiant Marine he was also a commander that in war and peace cared about those who served. He saw how American finance and banking interests helped drag us into the Fist World War, the promises broken by the government and the lives destroyed by war.

In his book War is a Racket Butler wrote eloquently about how the heads of corporations and their political supporters in both parties were the only benefactors of war. He wrote of the plight of the soldiers that served and returned wounded and often changed by war and he did not mince words in what he saw. He became an anti-war activist. He was a supporter of the Bonus Army, the veterans that “occupied” Washington DC during the last year of the Hoover Administration to get the bonuses promised for their service and were violently evicted by troops under the command of General Douglas MacArthur. If he was alive today I have no doubt that he would be an active supporter of the current “Occupy” movement and opponent of politicians, political activists, lobbyists and even preachers that advocate even more war.

butler-medals1

Butler’s War is a Racket as well as other published works are a worthwhile read and should make the most rabid fan of war think twice. Butler’s patriotism and devotion to the United States and the Constitution is unquestioned. His warnings are strong, he was a prophet in regard to the dangers of the Military-Industrial Complex well before President Eisenhower coined the term as he left office. He detailed how corporations made obscene profits often by selling the US Military vast amounts of materials that it could not possibly use and which taxpayers bought while business leaders and bankers made their fortunes that they never had realized when the nation was at peace. He reminds us of the dangers that our founders recognized about entwining ourselves in other people’s wars. While his answers on how to end war are now utopian dreams because of advances in technology and the wars which now rage without end in sight they are nonetheless not a bad place to start a debate.

Butler writes movingly about the price paid by veterans years after the war, men broken in body, mind and spirit from their war service.

“But the soldier pays the biggest part of this bill.

If you don’t believe this, visit the American cemeteries on the battlefields abroad. Or visit  any of the veterans’ hospitals in the United States….I have visited eighteen government hospitals for veterans. In them are about 50,000 destroyed men- men who were the pick of the nation eighteen years ago. The very able chief surgeon at the government hospital in Milwaukee, where there are 3,800 of the living dead, told me that mortality among veterans is three times as great as among those who stayed home.” 

CARTOONS profiteer_0001

One would think that things would be better now but our veterans’ health care system is a train wreck and there is an epidemic of suicide among active duty troops and veterans. In 2005 after years of hand wringing the Bush administration grudgingly increased the number of Soldiers and Marines even while cutting Navy personnel and ships to the  minimum that they could despite ever increasing operational tempos. The Navy was reduced by over 50,000 sailors during the Bush years and now when the Navy is needed more it has been reduced to the point that 8-10 month deployments with short turn arounds will be normal.

Now the Obama administration is cutting back partly due to the withdraw from Iraq but mostly because of the economic crisis. However the bulk of these cuts are falling on the military personnel and not the war profiteers. The Army will be cut by nearly 80,000 in the coming years the Marines by 20,000 and that may increase if the budget takes the sequestration hit without any reduction in operational tempo. These Soldiers and Marines will enter a bleak job market where many employers give little value to military experience or training, which has resulted in a vastly higher unemployment rate for Iraq and Afghanistan veterans than the general population.

It wasn’t much different in Butler’s day. He writes:

“Boys with a normal viewpoint were taken out of the fields and offices and factories and classrooms and put into the ranks. They were remolded; they were made over; they were made to “about face”; to regard murder as the order of the day. They were put shoulder to shoulder and through mass psychology, they were entirely changed. We used them for a couple of years and trained them to think of nothing but killing and being killed.

The suddenly, we discharged them and told them to make another “about face”! This time they had to do their own readjusting, sans mass psychology, sans officers’ aid and advice, sans nation-wide propaganda. We didn’t need them anymore. So we scattered them about without any “three minute” or “Liberty Loan” speeches or parades.”

Butler recounted another visit to a different veterans’ hospital:

“In the government hospital at Marion, Indiana 1,800 of these boys are in pens! Five hundred of them in a barracks with steel bars and wires all around the outside of the buildings and on the porches. These have already been mentally destroyed. These boys don’t even look like human beings. Oh, the looks on their faces! Physically they are in good shape but mentally they are gone.” 

There are thousands and thousands of these cases and more and more are coming in all the time…

That’s a part of the bill. So much for the dead-they have paid their part of the war profits. So much for the mentally and physically wounded- they are paying now with thier share of the war profits. But others paid with the heartbreaks when they tore themselves away for their firesides and their families to don the uniform of Uncle Sam- on which a profit had been made….”

I could go on but I think that Butler says it quite well and with the passion of a Marine who was wounded on more than one occasion and won the Medal of Honor twice.

The only people that want war are those that profit from it and don’t have to pay the price paid by those that have to fight them and pay for them. When I see pictures of Mitt Romney protesting in support of the Vietnam war while getting deferment after deferment to avoid service it makes my head spin. My head spins even more when I hear him talking brazenly about committing US troops to even more war. For me the pictures of Romney’s pro-war protests as a college student avoiding war on educational and religious service deferments as millions of other Americans went to war are up there with the pictures of “Hanoi” Jane Fonda giving aid and comfort to those that were killing our troops.

Butler’s detractors and they are legion on the political right attempt to paint him as an isolationist or appeaser of Hitler. However they misunderstand him and his work. They don’t understand as Butler understood that there would not have been a Nazi Germany without Versailles and that was not possible without the American intervention on the side of Britain and France in 1917. That involvement was driven by the bankers and industrialists who had supplied raw materials, weapons and technical patents to the British and French, and had done so before with the Germans who believed that they would lose their investments if the Germans won the war. That would have happened in late 1917 or early 1918 had not the Americans declared war and entered the war on the side of the British and French.

Most of Butler’s current critics have never served a day in uniform much less a day in a combat zone. They make their livings and profits by the sacrifice of others and other than a few of his quotes have never read anything about him.

If you sense indignation in my voice it is real. I have lived the nightmare of PTSD for over 7 years. I see and work with the young men and women that have bravely endured the hardship of combat deployments and come home physically, mentally and spiritually wounded. To our credit we are trying to do better, but that doesn’t always happen. But for the war profiteers even that will be too much. If military spending is cut you can bet that they will not take the hit that military personnel, their families and our veterans will take. They and their political benefactors will not allow it.

I am a military man through and through. I have spent nearly my whole life associated with the military as a dependent of a Navy Chief who served in Vietnam and a career of over 30 years divided between the Army and Navy. Some of my friends dads did not return from Vietnam, other friends and those who I have served with have paid with their lives in Iraq or Afghanistan while others suffer the continuing wounds of war.

This is personal for me and it is also motivated by my faith as a Christian. Today when I see prominent and politically influential right wing Evangelical Christian leaders and pastors beat the drums of war I am reminded of how Butler chided the pro-war clergy propagandists of the Great War. He wrote: “So vicious was this war propaganda that even God was brought into it. With few exceptions our clergymen joined in the clamor to kill, kill, kill. To kill Germans. God is on our side…it is his will that the Germans be killed.” Only today, it is not a blood lust for German blood, it is a blood lust for Moslem blood and it gets louder ever day.

Such preaching is not much different from the right wing pro-war preachers who advocate killing Moslems simply because they are Moslems and that go out of their way to preach the value of “pre-emptive war” despite such wars being against the Christian understanding of the  “Just War” or international law against such war that we as Americans helped develop after World War Two at Nuremberg and to which we hold the leaders of what we call “rogue nations.”

I only wish that our leaders; political leaders of both parties, religious leaders, and even business leaders would see the folly of this course and their responsibility for the results.

Someone has to say it.

Peace

Padre Steve+

Note: All quotations from “War is a Racket” by Smedley Butler copyright 1935 and 2003 by the Butler family. Amazon Kindle edition. 

3 Comments

Filed under ethics, History, middle east, Military, News and current events, Political Commentary

War is a Racket: Remembering Major General Smedley Butler USMC and Why He Matters

What is the cost of war? what is the bill? Major General Smedley Butler wrote: “This bill renders a horrible accounting. Newly placed gravestones. Mangled bodies. Shattered minds. Broken hearts and homes. Economic instability. Depression and all of its attendant miseries. Back -breaking taxation for generations and generations. For a great many years as a soldier I had a suspicion that war was a racket; not only until I retired to civilian life did I fully realize it….”

With all the domestic political news and the apocalyptic talk and actions surrounding John Roberts the Supreme Court and Obamacare it is hard to believe that we are at war for over 10 years and are at war or now preparing for war all over the Middle East. Iran, Syria, Afghanistan, Yemen, Somalia, the Persian Gulf, Libya, Egypt, Pakistan, you name the place there is a real a present danger of US forces becoming involved in even more war.

Maybe it is just me but it doesn’t seem that anybody in Washington has a damned bit of sense. I saw the “tweet” of a Michigan Republican party leader asking if “armed revolt was now justified” because of the Supreme Court ruling on Obamacare. That makes my blood boil, we are at war and this idiot wants to have a real live civil war and he is not alone. The process is to win elections if you want to change laws not to threaten civil war or revolution when the cause that you are against and take to the Supreme Court gets upheld for whatever reason. Anyone with a half a grain of sense knows that if you take something to the Supreme Court that you need to ask yourself the “Dirty Harry” question: “Do you feel lucky? Well do you punk?” When you go to the Supreme Court you put your case in front of nine Justices and not the electorate. That goes for Liberals as well as Conservatives.

The simple act of working together in the legislative process has been sabotaged by both parties over the years.  This finally hit the culminating point when GOP pushed through the self inflicted wound of the Budget Control Act of 2012. It is this act which now threatens the military which is at war with “sequestration.”  This threatens deep cuts in the military beyond those already anticipated and planned for by DOD. The Republicans are now trying to change it and the Administration is refusing to budge on the issue. Again this didn’t need to happen but brinksmanship is the order of the day.

There are no statesmen left in Washington DC only shills of the Right and Left and their masters from Wall Street to K Street. The only people profiting from this are the war profiteers who even if the budget gets cut and they fail to deliver usable weapon systems on time or in budget will still get paid. The losers will be the military personnel who must fight the wars who will get tossed onto the street by those that claim that personnel costs are the problem. Of course those that make this point are almost always the same lobbyists that shill for the defense industries and the banks. But enough about them.

Right now over 100,000 American military personnel and tens of thousands of other Department of Defense, Federal law enforcement, intelligence, diplomatic, humanitarian workers as well as contractors are fighting a war in Afghanistan. Tens of thousands more (mostly contractors)  are helping to shore up the Iraqi government or are fighting wars by other names in Pakistan, Yemen, the Horn of Africa or are deployed to counter Iran or standing by to assist Turkey if it comes into conflict with Syria. Of course this does not take into account the instability in Egypt, Libya, Eastern and Central Africa that threatens even more war or the potential of turmoil in Europe should the Euro Crisis bring about more financial disaster or even revolution in countries that are our allies. By the way let’s not forget about the nutcase leaders of North Korea who could provoke war on that side of the world in a heartbeat.

But never mind this, let’s fight each other instead threaten insurrection when we don’t get our way. But wait, I digress…

Did you know that while Americans stand in harms way almost every real or potential enemy has been armed, subsidized or assisted by American corporations and paid for by American tax dollars.  We have armed much of the world with weapons that have already in Iraq and Afghanistan killed thousands of American military personnel. But those were small time weapons compared to what we have provided to Egypt, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia and yes even Israel. F-15, F-16 and F-18 fighter planes, Tomahawk cruise missiles and Harpoon Anti-Ship Missiles, M-1 Tanks, M113 Fighting vehicles, Patriot Air Defense systems, you name the weapons system the war profiteers will sell it and US taxpayers will pay for it. These are weapons that very easily could be used with great effect to attack American interests should leaders in any of those countries decide to use them against us. I only include Israel because in 1967 its forces viciously attacked the USS Liberty which was operating in the Eastern Mediterranean Sea as Israel launched its pre-emptive war against Egypt. Although all of these countries are “allies” we must remember that alliances are only as good as the interests and values that unite nations.

Our defense industries with the support of the government sell advanced weapons to nations that often are less than trustworthy allies, allies of convenience that have little love for the United States but welcome the weapons and training that we provide.  They often use them to suppress the aspirations of their own people and plant the cultivate the seeds of radicalism and revolution.  It is hard not to cringe when pro-democracy protestors are killed by totalitarian regimes whose police and military are armed to the teeth with American made weapons. When those totalitarian regimes fall as did that of the Shah of Iran in 1979 those weapons fall into the hands of people radicalized against us by our support of their former oppressors.

Certainly nobody seriously believes that the angry masses in the countries that we have armed to the teeth with the latest in American weaponry would not use that weaponry against us should they desire.  But wait…. our politicians, arms dealers, bankers and their political, religious and financial backers certainly wouldn’t put Americans in harms way? Perish the thought, but not so quickly. They have done so before and will do it again.

Smedley Butler is one of under two dozen American military personnel to win the Congressional Medal of Honor twice. He saw the dangers of Fascism as well as the danger of unlimited corporate and business power to profit by war. Butler was not only a  valiant Marine he was also a commander that in war and peace cared about those who served. He saw how American finance and banking interests helped drag us into the Fist World War, the promises broken by the government and the lives destroyed by war.

In his book War is a Racket Butler wrote eloquently about how the heads of corporations and their political supporters in both parties were the only benefactors of war. He wrote of the plight of the soldiers that served and returned wounded and often changed by war and he did not mince words in what he saw. He became an anti-war activist. He was a supporter of the Bonus Army, the veterans that “occupied” Washington DC during the last year of the Hoover Administration to get the bonuses promised for their service and were violently evicted by troops under the command of General Douglas MacArthur. If he was alive today I have no doubt that he would be an active supporter of the current “Occupy” movement and opponent of politicians, political activists, lobbyists and even preachers that advocate even more war.

Butler’s War is a Racket as well as other published works are a worthwhile read and should make the most rabid fan of war think twice. Butler’s patriotism and devotion to the United States and the Constitution is unquestioned. His warnings are strong, he was a prophet in regard to the dangers of the Military-Industrial Complex well before President Eisenhower coined the term as he left office. He detailed how corporations made obscene profits often by selling the US Military vast amounts of materials that it could not possibly use and which taxpayers bought while business leaders and bankers made their fortunes that they never had realized when the nation was at peace. He reminds us of the dangers that our founders recognized about entwining ourselves in other people’s wars. While his answers on how to end war are now utopian dreams because of advances in technology and the wars which now rage without end in sight they are nonetheless not a bad place to start a debate.

Butler writes movingly about the price paid by veterans years after the war, men broken in body, mind and spirit from their war service.

“But the soldier pays the biggest part of this bill.

If you don’t believe this, visit the American cemeteries on the battlefields abroad. Or visit  any of the veterans’ hospitals in the United States….I have visited eighteen government hospitals for veterans. In them are about 50,000 destroyed men- men who were the pick of the nation eighteen years ago. The very able chief surgeon at the government hospital in Milwaukee, where there are 3,800 of the living dead, told me that mortality among veterans is three times as great as among those who stayed home.” 

One would think that things would be better now but our veterans’ health care system is a train wreck and there is an epidemic of suicide among active duty troops and veterans. In 2005 after years of hand wringing the Bush administration grudgingly increased the number of Soldiers and Marines even while cutting Navy personnel and ships to the  minimum that they could despite ever increasing operational tempos. The Navy was reduced by over 50,000 sailors during the Bush years and now when the Navy is needed more it has been reduced to the point that 8-10 month deployments with short turn arounds will be normal.

Now the Obama administration is cutting back partly due to the withdraw from Iraq but mostly because of the economic crisis. However the bulk of these cuts are falling on the military personnel and not the war profiteers. The Army will be cut by nearly 80,000 in the coming years the Marines by 20,000 and that may increase if the budget takes the sequestration hit without any reduction in operational tempo. These Soldiers and Marines will enter a bleak job market where many employers give little value to military experience or training, which has resulted in a vastly higher unemployment rate for Iraq and Afghanistan veterans than the general population.

It wasn’t much different in Butler’s day. He writes:

“Boys with a normal viewpoint were taken out of the fields and offices and factories and classrooms and put into the ranks. They were remolded; they were made over; they were made to “about face”; to regard murder as the order of the day. They were put shoulder to shoulder and through mass psychology, they were entirely changed. We used them for a couple of years and trained them to think of nothing but killing and being killed.

The suddenly, we discharged them and told them to make another “about face”! This time they had to do their own readjusting, sans mass psychology, sans officers’ aid and advice, sans nation-wide propaganda. We didn’t need them anymore. So we scattered them about without any “three minute” or “Liberty Loan” speeches or parades.”

Butler recounted another visit to a different veterans’ hospital:

“In the government hospital at Marion, Indiana 1,800 of these boys are in pens! Five hundred of them in a barracks with steel bars and wires all around the outside of the buildings and on the porches. These have already been mentally destroyed. These boys don’t even look like human beings. Oh, the looks on their faces! Physically they are in good shape but mentally they are gone.” 

There are thousands and thousands of these cases and more and more are coming in all the time…

That’s a part of the bill. So much for the dead-they have paid their part of the war profits. So much for the mentally and physically wounded- they are paying now with thier share of the war profits. But others paid with the heartbreaks when they tore themselves away for their firesides and their families to don the uniform of Uncle Sam- on which a profit had been made….”

I could go on but I think that Butler says it quite well and with the passion of a Marine who was wounded on more than one occasion and won the Medal of Honor twice.

The only people that want war are those that profit from it and don’t have to pay the price paid by those that have to fight them and pay for them. When I see pictures of Mitt Romney protesting in support of the Vietnam war while getting deferment after deferment to avoid service it makes my head spin. My head spins even more when I hear him talking brazenly about committing US troops to even more war. For me the pictures of Romney’s pro-war protests as a college student avoiding war on educational and religious service deferments as millions of other Americans went to war are up there with the pictures of “Hanoi” Jane Fonda giving aid and comfort to those that were killing our troops.

Butler’s detractors and they are legion on the political right attempt to paint him as an isolationist or appeaser of Hitler. However they misunderstand him and his work. They don’t understand as Butler understood that there would not have been a Nazi Germany without Versailles and that was not possible without the American intervention on the side of Britain and France in 1917. That involvement was driven by the bankers and industrialists who had supplied raw materials, weapons and technical patents to the British and French, and had done so before with the Germans who believed that they would lose their investments if the Germans won the war. That would have happened in late 1917 or early 1918 had not the Americans declared war and entered the war on the side of the British and French.

Most of Butler’s current critics have never served a day in uniform much less a day in a combat zone. They make their livings and profits by the sacrifice of others and other than a few of his quotes have never read anything about him.

If you sense indignation in my voice it is real. I have lived the nightmare of PTSD for over 4 years. I see and work with the young men and women that have bravely endured the hardship of combat deployments and come home physically, mentally and spiritually wounded. To our credit we are trying to do better but for the war profiteers that will be too much. If military spending is cut you can bet that they will not take the hit that military personnel, their families and our veterans will take. They and their political benefactors will not allow it.

I am a military man through and through. I have spent nearly my whole life associated with the military as a dependent of a Navy Chief who served in Vietnam and a career of over 30 years divided between the Army and Navy. Some of my friends dads did not return from Vietnam, other friends and those who I have served with have paid with their lives in Iraq or Afghanistan while others suffer the continuing wounds of war.

This is personal for me and it is also motivated by my faith as a Christian. Butler chided the pro-war clergy propagandists of the Great War. He wrote:

“So vicious was this war propaganda that even God was brought into it. With few exceptions our clergymen joined in the clamor to kill, kill, kill. To kill Germans. God is on our side…it is his will that the Germans be killed.”

Such preaching is not much different from the right wing pro-war preachers who advocate killing Moslems simply because they are Moslems and that go out of their way to preach the value of “pre-emptive war” despite such wars being against the Christian understanding of the  “Just War” or international law against such war that we as Americans helped develop after World War Two at Nuremberg and to which we hold the leaders of what we call “rogue nations.”

I only wish that our leaders; political leaders of both parties, religious leaders, and even business leaders would see the folly of this course and their responsibility for the results.

Someone has to say it.

Peace

Padre Steve+

Note: All quotations from “War is a Racket” by Smedley Butler copyright 1935 and 2003 by the Butler family. Amazon Kindle edition. 

6 Comments

Filed under faith, History, iraq,afghanistan, Military, national security, News and current events, Political Commentary, PTSD, shipmates and veterans

Wiki-Leaks Minions: A Man’s got to Know His Limitations

“A Man’s got to know his limitations” Harry Callahan

Julian Assange has sparked a cyber insurgency of the highest degree. Over the past few months the brilliant yet arrogant and paranoid head of Wiki-Leaks has acted as if no one can stop him and in a technical sense for the moment it appears that he is correct. Despite the fact that he is sitting in a British jail awaiting extradition hearings regarding charges of rape and sexual assault in Sweden his minions and supporters have launched a cyber war on governments, corporations and individuals that oppose them. They have attacked government sites in a number of nations, major financial sites such as Visa, Mastercard and Pay-Pal as well as individuals.  At the same time they continue to release documents in a shotgun blast manner hitting targets far and wide in a very indiscriminate way while holding back the 256bit encrypted 1.4 gigabyte “insurance file” in case they feel their operation too threatened.  Hundreds of mirror sites have popped up around the world to ensure if the main Wiki-Leaks site is taken down that the leaked information will still be available.

It seems for the moment that Assange and his minions have the upper hand. They claim that in order to stop them the internet would have to be shut down. Many experts say that the encryption on the insurance file is impossible to break.  Their attacks become more widespread by the hour and they appear to be  filled with a confidence that no-one can stop them. It is as if they think that nothing can happen to them and that their actions will somehow by creating chaos bring about some kind of new Utopia.  Their Utopia supposedly puts “openness” among people and nations as the highest ideal. They presume of course that total openness is something that is good. If people were totally good this might be a wonderful proposition. Unfortunately as anyone slightly acquainted with human nature knows, there are very few real saints walking the earth.  That is why most people secure their property, insist on privacy and use things like passwords and pin numbers.  It’s why governments, corporations and individuals have secrets. You see secrets are not simply evil but serve a purpose for law abiding peoples in protecting them from others that wish to do them harm. Anyone that has every had their identity stolen can testify to this.

The mistake that the Wiki-Leakers make is that they don’t realize their limitations.  They believe that their knowledge of the internet and technological savvy will give them an edge against those that they want to punish, governments, corporations or individuals.  While they seem to be unstoppable for the moment they forget that any kind of military operation eventually hits what Clausewitz called its “culminating point.” This is the place and time where its energy of the offense is spent and the attacker becomes vulnerable to counterattack. Despite the fact that this is a cyber-war the principle remains sound.

In this case it is quite probable that it will not be the technology that is the Wiki-Leaker’s Achilles’ heel. What will be their downfall will be their overreach which will lead to a real human backlash from governments whose citizens demand action. The problem for the Wiki-Leakers is that they are human and have friends, families and associates that have human intelligence regarding them. The Wiki-Leakers are arrogant and quite boastful as I have found out and while technologically savvy are not very wise. They forget that as the information that they leak and the attacks that they make will affect regular people, many of whom would support them until their lives and livelihoods are threatened.  Once this happens the leakers will find that they can no longer hide as pressure is put on their loved ones who do not approve of their methods.  It is much like when Al Qaeda’s foreign fighters started attacking important Sunni leaders and turning the population of Al Anbar Province against them.

The Wiki-Leakers are playing with fire and in their smugness they have no earthy idea of the world that they are about to spawn and the terrible consequences that they will bring to the earth. Unfortunately like all revolutionaries they do not care about the effect that their work will have on the world. That is the beauty of being very technologically savvy and arrogant while ignorant at the same time.  They behave as pseudo-religious crusaders convinced of their righteousness and belief that the end justifies the means.

The more gentle nations such as the United States will simply prosecute those that they catch while the brutal nations will hunt them down torture and kill them. They will find that the chaos that they create will turn against them and that they will have to spend more time defending than attacking or leaking. From that moment their days will be numbered.

Unfortunately the chaos that they create will cause people to accept draconian measures which will severely limit liberty and the freedom of speech around the world.  The openness that they desire is illusory and they will find that they should have known their limitations. Those that sow the wind reap the whirlwind.

They should watch more Clint Eastwood movies after all “a man’s got to know his limitations” as they are rapidly approaching the point of no return.

Peace,

Padre Steve+

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Filed under Foreign Policy, History, national security

More about Why I Miss the Music of the 70’s and 80’s

The Carptenters

A few weeks back I posted an essay that looked back a the music of the 1970s and early 1980s that dealt with some of the historic context of the era as well as a bunch of videos and pictures of some of my favorite groups and their music.  As I mentioned in that essay the time was somewhat tumultuous a lot of social unrest, economic crisis, terrorism, communist expansion, a lost war and political crisis culminating in the resignation of a President.

Padre Steve and the Abbess at Mission San Fernando Fall 1980

The time was also one where people were also attempting to return to some semblance of normalcy in the post Vietnam and Nixon era.  The 1960s were a time of social revolution which impacted almost every area of life and a time where almost everything was reduced to some sort of “message.”  By about 1973 the new younger generation which was entering high school and junior high school were less bent on activism and more on having fun as well as more inward discoveries.  The 1970s were certainly not a return to “traditional values” although there was a recovery of nostalgia for the 1950s with the movies American Graffiti, Grease and the sitcom Happy Days. This desire to feel better was partly in reaction to the turbulence of the 60’s and the reality that things were not good in the 1970s and as a result my generation sought entertainment and diversions for the nearly endless litany of bad news.  Much social change was still underway spurred on by the civil rights movement, the women’s rights movement and reproductive rights, the end of the draft and change in law which allowed 18 year olds to vote.  Like the 1960s there was experimentation with drugs as well sex.

Fashions morphed from bell bottoms and t-shirts and long hair to double knit polyester, silk shirts, leisure suits and tight fitting designer jeans. Tie-dye gave way to earth tones which were followed by bright colors and finally in the early 80s leather and pastels.  Classic styles began to return by the early 80’s “Preppy” was in, Oxford shirts, khakis and natural fibers such as cotton replaced the polyester double knits.

Rocky

Movies too began to change films like Star Wars and Star Trek launched people into undreamed of worlds even as NASA worked on the Space Shuttle.  Gritty films like Clint Eastwood’s Dirty Harry and Sylvester Stallone’s Rocky featured everymen who battled either crime or took on superior adversaries in the ring.  On television a team of young comics launched a comedy franchise, Saturday Night Live which is still with us today and which spun off a generation of comics who have made their own impact on American entertainment.  The musical returned in movies such as Grease and Xanadu while Disco rode the wave of Saturday Night Fever and country music returned with Urban Cowboy.

Here are some more of my favorites as well as some songs that helped make the 70’s and 80’s what they were.  Enjoy.

Three Dog Night

Three Dog Night, Joy to the World This was a fun song that came out in the early 1970s and when I hear it I can still find me singing along.

http://www.dailymotion.com/video/x2x3af_three-dog-night-joy-to-the-world_people

Credence Clearwater Revival Credence was one of the great groups of the 60s and early 70’s, members such as John Foggarty would go on to successful solo careers.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UYnySGM9dQA

The Carpenters Possible the most precise and skilled musical group of the late 60’s and the 70’s the Carpenters were middle America’s sweet hearts.  Karen would die tragically from a heart attack induced in part due to her struggles with depression and subsequent Anorexia Nervosa.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=n53E_J9a_Fo&feature=PlayList&p=F02D8CA7FF8AA675&index=12

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dPmbT5XC-q0

Helen Reddy’s “I am Woman” become the anthem of the Women’s Rights movement

Helen Reddy: I am Woman My mom absolutely loved Helen Reddy while my dad hated “I am Woman.” She had quite a few other major hits through the 70’s and I saw her in concert in Stockton CA back in 78 or 79.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bmExAiCcaPk

Paul McCartney and Wings: Band on the Run Paul McCartney was the most successful of the Beatles in his solo career.  Wings was an outstanding group centered around McCartney and his beautiful wife Linda.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7Qx2jEfBsqY

Elton John: Goodbye Yellow Brick Road Elton John had one of the most successful careers of any solo artist, his flashy clothes and wild glasses coupled with a high energy live performance made him a crowd favorite.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=43Ho_6C_fM4

I Guess that’s Why they Call it the Blues

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uc4ZRdPGGTI&feature=PlayList&p=7B1E53DD1B27118D&playnext=1&playnext_from=PL&index=39

Ringo Starr: The Non No Song Ringo did not have the same success as either Paul or John Lennon but this song was fun to listen to on the school bus.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2-PirP4LiFo

Abba

Abba: I do, I do I do Abba who broke into the international music scene in 1972 remained incredibly popular throughout the 70s and the 80s before disbanding in 1989.   They survived and thrived through every major musical swing of the era.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PjgxxeA83FQ&feature=PlayList&p=11B0CC8778FA9A05&index=15

Honey Honey

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qeGtaSWzFRA&feature=PlayList&p=11B0CC8778FA9A05&index=4

Dancing Queen

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ctzIEjjOfd4

Eagles: Already Gone The Eagles have been and always will be one of my favorite groups.  Known for their stellar guitars and five part harmonies they have endured and their music has not been duplicated.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JHk2em4ZNwA&feature=PlayList&p=8A2216020416503A&index=16

Lying Eyes

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iYQgPTsiZIU

Dr Hook: Walk Right In One of the lesser known but still successful groups of the 70’s and 80’s this group teamed with poet and children’s writer Shel Silverstein to come up with some of the most unusual, quirky and funny songs of the era.  Having a country rock style they regularly sung about sex, drugs and alcohol they morphed into a less controversial stance in the 1980s.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WPj5O3AMGDA&feature=PlayList&p=54CD692E585AE055&index=13

Years from Now

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EfsPeVVL8zE&feature=PlayList&p=AF906570E242A626&index=18

The Trammps: Disco Inferno Probably the group that had the signature Disco song, the Trammps were from Philadelphia.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=A_sY2rjxq6M

Bee Gees

Bee Gee’s: Tragedy While the Trammps may have produced the anthem of the era but the Bee Gees were the group that best personified the era with their harmonies and passion.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=O1_DdIxfpIU

The Village People

The Village People: YMCA While the Bee Gees may have personified the music of hte era the Village People were iconic with thier signature costumes and appeal to the gay community and their crossover into the mainstream with hits such as Macho Man, YMCA and in the Navy.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CS9OO0S5w2k

In the Navy

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=InBXu-iY7cw

Donna Summer: She Works Hard for the Money The beautiful Donna Summer would be the queen of Disco and transition to a more pop and R&B sound in the 80s.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1TKQcWEXSKU

The Cast of Grease

Travolta and Olivia in Grease: You’re the One that I Want The musical Grease starring Olivia Newton John and John Travolta had an appeal that spanned generations and was wildly popular.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1TKQcWEXSKU

Olivia Newton John and ELO: Xanadu The musical Xanadu was not a strong performer at the box office and was panned by most critics but birthed a host of top ten hits.  It was notable for is choreography and costumes which place it solidly in the middle of the era.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7m1UWSD-FaA

Charlie Daniels Band: The Devil Went Down to Georgia As country music found a new appeal among younger people artists like Charlie Daniels careers took off crossing over to the pop charts from the country charts.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7m1UWSD-FaA

Willie Nelson

Willie Nelson: You Were Always on My Mind Possibly the most prolific of the country artists to cross over into the pop world was Willie Nelson who along with Waylon Jennings produced hit after hit and also had a solid social conscience.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CsLL6bIUs6M

A Young Barry Manilow

Barry Manilow: Mandy Barry Manilow was a one man hit machine in the 70’s and 80’s and while rockers, disco fans and others would scoff at his music he had an enduring appeal that spanned generations. I can remember many girls in high school who had their Mailow t-shirts and his songs wee always on the radio.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9E5R6dunFOc&feature=related

Weekend in New England

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xpkOz-zJiq0&feature=PlayList&p=A0D84ADACA5F5E08&index=0

Boz Skaggs

Boz Skaggs: Lido Shuffle Boz Skaggs had a unique sound and was hard to pin down but again was an artist who was solid throughout the era.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DIu0jQ5TaRQ&feature=PlayList&p=8201408B8B6E42C8&index=2

Stevie Wonder

Stevie Wonder: I Just Called to Say I Love You: R&B singer Stevie Wonder was popular throughout the era and successfully crossed over to the pop charts with I Just Called to Say I Love You from the movie Woman in Red and his duet with Paul McCartney Ebony and Ivory.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PY45DkaP9Ls&feature=PlayList&p=3C966AE64CF668CB&index=10

Rod Stewart” Maggie May Rocker Rod Stewart lived on the wild side in the 70’s and 80’s but by the 90’s and 2000’s had transformed himself into a classic crooner.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=h9dlG-iq3F8

Commodores: Brick House Lionel Ritchie and the Commodores from Motown we electric in the 70’s and Ritchie would cross over into a even more successful pop career in the late 70s beginning with the theme to the movie Endless Love.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-5EmnQp3V48

Kermit the Frog with Blondie’s Debby Harry

Kermit the Frog and Debbie Harry: Rainbow Connection The Muppet Show led by Kermit the Frog featured a wide number of popular music artists who would ham it up often singing duets with Kermit of Miss Piggy. The Muppets had thier own top ten hit The Rainbow Connection from the Muppet Movie.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lRvhRhWWE44

Debbie Harry of Blondie

Blondie: Heart of Glass Sexy former Playboy centerfold Debbie Harry and Blondie were a dominant influence on the rock and pop charts in the late 70s and 1980s.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lRvhRhWWE44

Sunday Girl

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=obwanhb6kww&feature=PlayList&p=F2ED8F30DB2943CD&index=10

Kim Carnes

Kim Carnes’  Betty Davis Eyes and Debbie Boone’s You Light up My Life would hold the Billboard Pop Single number one record of 9 weeks in the late 1970s. Carnes, a singer songwriter for Kenny Rogers launched a successful solo career of her own with the quirky Betty Davis Eyes while the wholesome Boone, the daughter of pop icon Pat Boone would gain fame with You Light up My Life

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EPOIS5taqA8

Debbie Boone

Debbie Boone: You Light up My Life

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nC9sEAqEjxs

Air Supply: Lost in Love One of the bands from down under Air Supply would make its mark on the pop scene with a number of popular love songs.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HpntNDAYltM

Boston: More than a Feeling The rock group Boston and their driving rhythm and guitar solos would compete with other classic rock groups of the era and help define the “death before disco” movement.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IcsVPis1iNs

Supertramp: Breakfast in America One of the more overlooked groups of the era was Supertramp.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Jh2TJ2DAy_o

Freddy Mercury and Queen

Queen: We are the Champions Freddy Mercury and Queen easily moved between the rock and pop charts with powerful ballads and rong songs with a quircky edge. Mercury’s vocals and stage presence were amazing.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hSTivVclQQ0

Billy Idol: Dancing with Myself Billy Idol a rocker also helped symbolize some of the New Wave movement his ghoulish Dancing with Myself was an early hit on MTV.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0VNx78SAq8M

Katrina and the Waves: Walking on Sunshine Another 80s group with lasting appeal was Katrina and the Waves.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iPUmE-tne5U

The Bangles: Manic Monday The Girl Group The Bangles had a number of hits in the 80s.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lAZgLcK5LzI

Madonna: Lucky Star Pop legend Madonna broke into the music scene in this era and really until recently has never left.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ThHz9wlBeLU

Kenny Loggins: Danger Zone Kenny Loggins solo career really took off with the movie Top Gun

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Y1a_ikfUico

Billy Joel: Uptown Girl Billy Joel was another solo artist with hit after hit in the 70s and 80s.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hCuMWrfXG4E

AC/DC: You Shook Me All Night Long AC/DC never failed to shock but produced some of the most enduring, if not occasionally controversial hits of the era and still have a large following today.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=z5FWXSnCEZE&feature=PlayList&p=66074A5666DBAB87&index=2

Berlin: Take My Breath Away Berlin produced a large number of sultry hits but it was Take My Breath Away from Top Gun put them on most people’s radar.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DARX9nzNE3E

Well, they were interesting times and despite everything I still enjoy the music of these groups.  Diverse and unpredictable as to what would find its way onto different charts the artists of the 70’s and 80s and their music is still popular today.

Peace

Padre Steve+

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Filed under History, music