Thursday, November 17, 2011

Blogger Blues

UPDATE  12/18/12:  This site is rendering correctly (off and on) - and has been for a while now - but since I've already started the new blog linked below, I'm going to just continue from there.  Apologies to anyone inconvenienced by this change.

ORIGINAL;
I haven't found the culprit.  Something Blogger is doing to improve things.


So...I'm going to just start up another blog. I'll try to reprint some of today's posts that didn't make it into the loadup here. I doubt if I'll ever get the sidebar bits put back up. But by now, I assume the handful of people who read YWA have marked the various blogs and sites that were linked there, if interested in them.


If you want to continue reading You Will Anyway, you can do it by altering your URL just a tad to: youwillanyway2.blogspot.com


...but hey, do what you want...you will anyway.

This Is America

Occupy - From Someone Who's Been There

Blogger Glitch

I don't know what's happening with Blogger.  There's a glitch somewhere, and I'm not finding it.  Don't have time to work on it now.  Will try again tonight.

Occupy Questions

Occupy Winter

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

The Nerve

Afghan President Hamid Karzai has said he wants the US and NATO to agree to stop carrying out night raids on Afghan homes as a pre-condition to Kabul signing a strategic partnership with Washington.

  alJazeera

Geez. Why don’t you just ask for the moon?

Karzai spoke on Wednesday at the opening of a "loya jirga," or grand council, which will discuss a proposed strategic partnership with the US that would oversee the American military presence as troops withdraw, as well as possible peace talks with the Taliban.

You know, they don’t look all that happy with him either.

....but hey, do what you want....you will anyway.

Discovery Channel Needs to Change Its Name

The Discovery Channel has co-produced with the BBC a new David Attenborough-hosted 7-part nature series on the earth's polar regions called Frozen Planet. It's already begun airing on BBC. It's set to air on the Discovery Channel in the near future.

But apparently Discovery has decided to air only the first six episodes, skipping the seventh and final installment, "On Thin Ice," which is all about the effect of climate change on the poles.

  TPM

What would be a more appropriate name for the “Discovery” Channel which apparently discovers and then hides information?

....but hey, do what you want....you will anyway.

Occupy Seattle Police Pepper Spray 84-year-old Woman


....but hey, do what you want....you will anyway.

Click to enlarge picture from the UK Guardian

Who's Occupying the White House?

A bullet has struck the ballistic glass of an exterior window of the White House and another round has been found nearby, News4, a local NBC affiliate, reported.

The news outlet said the Secret Service – the bodyguard detail charged with protecting the US president and other top officials — began investigating after an incident on Friday when gunshots were heard near the White House.

  Raw Story

Under the condition that I know very little about ballistics (except that the magic bullet scenario the Warren Commission foisted on the world is totally impossible in the real world), how far away could someone be and still hit the window? Perhaps if we knew what kind of bullet it was, but a round was found? Wouldn’t that indicate someone was in that spot? I thought this place was guarded.

More than 300 protesters marched on the White House on Tuesday to invite an absent President Barack Obama to side with the Occupy movement, after police raids on camps in New York and other cities.

  Raw Story

I have a feeling he can’t go because he doesn’t have a thing to wear.

Unlike New York and other major US cities, Washington has been tolerant of not one, but two encampments that are home to protesters decrying social inequality and what they say is excessive corporate influence on US politics.

Local police escorted Tuesday’s march through evening rush hour traffic, and just two uniformed Secret Service agents were in position along the black iron fence on the north side of the White House when the protesters turned up.

The others were being dressed down in the director’s office for the bullet incident.

U.S. President Barack Obama on Wednesday said he was “deeply concerned” at the turmoil in the eurozone that has spooked global markets amid growing fears about Europe’s debt crisis and anaemic growth.

“I am deeply concerned and I have been deeply concerned. I suspect I will be deeply concerned tomorrow and next week,” he said at a press conference with Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard in Canberra.

  Raw Story

So quit asking.

“Until we put in place a concrete plan and structure that sends a clear signal to the markets that Europe is standing behind the euro and will do what it takes, we are going to continue to see the kinds of turmoil that we saw in the markets,” Obama said.

He’s talking European markets and using the royal “we.” Does anyone get tired of the US co-opting everything everywhere?

“At this point, the larger European community has to stand behind the European project,” Obama said.

“We have got an integrated world economy and what happens in Europe will have an impact on us,” he added.

He’s also still using the American “we.” It’s all ours. All of it.

Gee, is Bank of America a European corporation? Merrill Lynch? Lehman Brothers? Goldman Sachs? I wonder, does what happen in America have an impact in Europe? Do “we” care?

....but hey, do what you want....you will anyway.

Occupy Together

Protestors with Occupy D.C. just took over the D.C. headquarters of Brookfield Properties, which owns Zuccotti Park (location of the Occupy Wall Street protests).

  TPM

So much for the rag-tag, partying, slacker, unorganized meme.

....but hey, do what you want....you will anyway.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

What You Suspected Is True

The spate of recent police crackdowns on OWS protesters was no coincidence.

Over the past ten days, more than a dozen cities have moved to evict "Occupy" protesters from city parks and other public spaces. As was the case in last night's move in New York City, each of the police actions shares a number of characteristics. And according to one Justice official, each of those actions was coordinated with help from Homeland Security, the FBI and other federal police agencies.

[...]

According to this official, in several recent conference calls and briefings, local police agencies were advised to seek a legal reason to evict residents of tent cities, focusing on zoning laws and existing curfew rules. Agencies were also advised to demonstrate a massive show of police force, including large numbers in riot gear. In particular, the FBI reportedly advised on press relations, with one presentation suggesting that any moves to evict protesters be coordinated for a time when the press was the least likely to be present.

  Examiner

Or as in the case of NY, deny the press access.

Collateral Damage

France’s consul to the Gaza Strip, his wife and 13-year-old daughter were injured during an Israeli air strike on Sunday night, French foreign ministry spokesman Bernard Valero said.

Valero told reporters the three were hit by shrapnel at their residence in Gaza, which is located 200 meters from the site of an Israeli missile attack, he added.

  Raw Story

Perhaps Sarkozy will think twice before he makes another comment about Netanyahu being a liar.

....but hey, do what you want....you will anyway.

Police Action in Zuccotti Park - Press Denied Access

A New York state judge this morning temporarily enjoined the city from keeping the protesters out of Zuccotti Park, but Mayor Bloomberg is simply ignoring the Order and deliberately breaking the law by refusing to allow them back in. Put another way, Bloomberg this morning has broken more laws than the hundreds of protesters who were arrested. But as we know, the law does not apply to the Michael Bloombergs of the nation; the law, instead, has simply been exploited into a weapon used by the politically and financially powerful to prevent challenges to their standing.

  Glenn Greenwald

A military style raid on peaceful protesters camped out in the shadow of Wall Street, ordered by a cold ruthless billionaire who bought his way into the mayor’s office.

  Justin Elliott

The Associated Press reported that two of their reporters, writer Karen Matthews and photographer Seth Wenig, were taken into custody. The New York Daily News reported that their reporter Matthew Lysiak was also detained. NPR freelance reporter Julie Walker was arrested but indicated she has been released.

A photographer with Agance France Presse, a reporter for The Local East Village, and other journalists were also arrested. Police don’t currently know the exact number of journalists were arrested.

[...]

And even hours after the cleanup, reporters like local CW affiliate anchor Debra Alfarone revealed how police still were making it hard for the press, tweeting, “We’ve got kicked out of Zuccotti Park again.”

The city also closed airspace in lower Manhattan to prevent news helicopters from taking aerial footage of the police crackdown.

  Raw Story

Police action at Occupy Chapel Hill:

Oh No

Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich, the latest GOP presidential candidate to experience an uptick in poll numbers, on Monday attributed his success in part to running a "positive" campaign -- even as he cited the "deep discomfort" among Republican voters with rival Mitt Romney.

  CBS

Yes, they are obviously loathe to see Mitt win the nomination. Cain lost to his sex scandal, and they are getting more desperate. It’s obvious the people being polled are fickle and don’t give a hoot about any real qualifications for office. If Mitt Romney would just suddenly “see the light” and have a religious conversion, the man would be totally in.

....but hey, do what you want....you will anyway.

So THAT's Where the Weapons of Mass Destruction Are

Britain is sending officials to Libya to help the government to investigate the scale of Colonel Muammar Gaddafi's secret chemical weapons stockpile, retained by the Libyan dictator in breach of promises made to the international community.

The size of the stockpile – including mustard gas – suggests Gaddafi totally misled Tony Blair when he promised to destroy weapons of mass destruction in return for being brought back in from the diplomatic cold in 2004.

  UK Guardian

Now, aren’t you glad we killed that bastard? He lied. Can you believe we trusted that guy?

Let’s see…who owns Libya now? Britain? It’s so hard to keep these things straight.

The OPCW team was despatched to Libya initially because it feared the Nato air campaign might have destabilised mustard gas known to be held in the south-east of the country.

Ha. Wouldn’t that be ironic? Actually, it would, and the reality is simply likely that they can’t trust the guys they’ve enabled to take over Qadafi’s position with stocks of mustard gas.

....but hey, do what you want....you will anyway.

Tell Me Again...

...why isn't NATO liberating the Syrian people?

At least 70 people have been killed in violence across Syria over the past 24 hours in one of the bloodiest days since an anti-government uprising began eight months ago, activists reported.

The UK-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said on Tuesday that 27 civilians were shot dead by security forces and 34 soldiers as well as 12 suspected army deserters were killed in clashes.

  alJazeera

....but hey, do what you want....you will anyway.

Ratcheting Down on Occupiers

And giving fuel to anti-American politicians everywhere.

The presence of squatters in an abandoned structure is not technically legal, but it generally requires the property owner to make a complaint before police take action. A main thrust of some cities’ occupations is to get homeless families to occupy foreclosed, bank-owned homes — a course of action endorsed by the general assembly at “Occupy Oakland,” and even a member of Congress. [Congresswoman Marcy Kaptur (D-OH)]

[...]

Asserting what they thought were squatters’ rights, about 50-75 “Occupy Chapel Hill” [North Carolina] demonstrators broke into an abandoned Chrysler building on Saturday night, taping up banners in the windows. They screened a film and danced into the night, with officers only making a single, brief appearance before leaving entirely.

Things changed dramatically by Sunday afternoon, when local media reported that more than 25 commandos armed with assault rifles staged a raid on the building, rushing in to find just eight protesters who’d stayed the night.

Others near the building, including a reporter, had guns drawn on them and were forced to lay on the ground and be placed in handcuffs.

A photo published by The News Observer shows men who look more like soldiers than police, aiming weapons of war at unarmed protesters. The city of Chapel Hill has a population of just 57,000.

  Raw Story

Hundreds of police officers in riot gear raided Zuccotti Park early Tuesday, evicting dozens of Occupy Wall Street protesters from what has become the epicenter of the worldwide movement protesting corporate greed.

About 70 people were arrested, including some who chained themselves together, while officers cleared the park so that sanitation crews could clean it.

[...]

Police in riot gear filled the streets, car lights flashing and sirens blaring. Protesters, some of whom shouted angrily at police, began marching to two locations in Lower Manhattan where they planned to hold rallies.

Some protesters refused to leave the park, but many left peacefully. Hundreds of police officers surrounded the park in riot gear with plastic shields across their faces, holding plastic shields and batons which were used [in] some cases on protesters.

[...]

Paul Browne, a spokesman for the New York Police Department, said the park had been cleared by 4:30 a.m. and that about 70 people who’d been inside it had been arrested, including a group who chained themselves together. One person was taken to a local hospital for evaluation because of breathing problems.

  SunTimes

Caused by what, we are not told.

Early Monday morning, Oakland police raided the camp site to evict the protesters from Frank H. Ogawa Plaza.

[...]

Oakland Mayor Jean Quan’s legal adviser and longtime friend, Dan Siegel, explained to MSNBC host Rachel Maddow on Monday night why he decided to resign his post.

Siegel was very unhappy with the police raid on the “Occupy Oakland” encampment on October 25 but had hoped the protesters would be allowed to continue their demonstration.

[...]

“This is a tremendous movement, a productive movement,” Siegel continued. “It’s a progressive movement of people who’ve been passive for years in the face of economic attacks, homelessness, joblessness, foreclosures, crushing student debt, and so on. I think it has the potential to really remake American society and if that’s true, then people who run cities, and particularly cities like Oakland — where the 99 percent live — should be supportive of those movements and should not think that they can control them.”

“To me it seems like a totally useless and futile activity to spend millions of dollars to take people out of tents, to create situations where there is bloodshed in our streets and lots of chaos for days, because they’re going to come back,” he added.

  Raw Story

Well, kudos to Mr. Siegel. (Even if he may be getting out before they storm the mayor’s office and blood flows (more) freely in the streets. I don’t know that. Just throwing it in as a possible reason for his sensibility.)

All right. Okay. He sounds very sincere.

....but hey, do what you want....you will anyway.

Gary Johnson, Presidential Hopeful

Wait a minute…Gary who? Running for president, you say? Don’t think I know the man.

Former New Mexico governor and Republican presidential candidate Gary Johnson on Monday expressed sympathy with the “Occupy Wall Street” movement.

Johnson, a libertarian, is an outspoken opponent of the drug war, is in favor of same sex marriage, and supports withdrawing all U.S. troops from Iraq and Afghanistan. He is also pro-choice.

“This country doles it out unfairly,” Johnson said on MSNBC’s The Dylan Ratigan Show. “I just think the root of all evil are politicians that accept money, and when they accept money, they dole out favors to individuals, groups, corporations that pay for those favors, and that’s what I think the majority of Americans are outraged over it. This is not a country that’s about a level playing field, and that’s what government should be doing, is doing everything they can to ensure an equal opportunity for everybody.”

  Raw Story

Well, he sure as hell isn’t going to see the oval rug.

A libertarian, and he has to run on the Republican ticket because, after all, there can be only two.

And why isn’t Gary Johnson in the “debates?” Ron Paul, another libertarian, is.

Candidates had to meet all of the following criteria in order to be invited to participate in the Republican Presidential Candidates Debate sponsored by Bloomberg News, the Washington Post, WBIN and Dartmouth:

1) Received measurable popular support in a range of national polls.

2) Campaign reported at least half a million dollars raised in its FEC filing through the 2011 second quarter reporting period.

3) Is a legally qualified candidate for the Republican nomination for president.

4) Participated in at least three nationally televised Republican presidential debates during the 2012 election cycle.

  WaPo

Is that last one a Catch-22?

....but hey, do what you want....you will anyway.

Chelsea Clinton, Ace Reporter

Add her to those other journalism graduates now working in the media: Sarah Palin, Jenna Bush, Meghan McCain.

I really don’t understand what those angry, lazy losers in the Occupy movement are so upset about. America is a meritocracy; if you work hard and prove your skills, you get ahead. The winners deserve what they have because they have earned it. And when all else fails, we have a media filled with insurgent outsiders who will be relentless watchdogs over those in power because that’s what our media outlets are: true outsiders there to check the most powerful factions.

Even more encouragingly, we have a media that ensures that diverse views are heard; Chelsea Clinton previously worked at a $12 billion hedge fund and her former-Goldman-Sachs-banker husband earlier this year launched his own hedge fund with “two guys from Goldman,” so she brings a depth and diversity of perspetive that is sorely lacking in our news (true, CNN boldly features Erin Burnett — the former Goldman, Sachs employee and current fiancĂ© of a top Citigroup executive — but nothing can compete with Chelsea Clinton’s rich, impressive journalism background).

  Glenn Greenwald

And here’s Fox News bashing NBC for hiring Jenna Bush and Chelsea Clinton as “the celebrity factor” - “this isn’t really journalism, it’s celebrity news – it’s ridiculous.” Fox News, who hired Sarah Palin and Mike Huckabee.

....but hey, do what you want....you will anyway.

Monday, November 14, 2011

And One MORE Thing

(Speaking of the Trans-Pacific "Partnership")

And has there ever been such a gaggle of fourth-rate poltroons, of shallow, witless, gormless goobers as the leaders of the "developed" world these days? Sarkozy, Cameron, Merkel, Berlusconi [ed:one down], Obama ....? It's like the last tribal council on Easter Island.

  Chris Floyd

Bank of America - Coming Around for Seconds

In the recent Wall Street collapse, B of A took advantage of the crisis to bulk up its empire. Using $45 billion in bailout money from us taxpayers, the giant gobbled up two troubled financial powers, investment house Merrill Lynch and mortgage hustler Countrywide Financial. It is now choking on these mergers, as well as its own executive incompetence. Its credit rating has been downgraded, its stock price has plummeted, its CEO is desperately trying to raise cash (and save his job) by firing 36,000 employees, and it has infuriated its own customers by trying to impose a $5 monthly fee on debit card users.

[...]

[CEO Brian Moynihan is] trying to transfer a mess of bad investments now held by the Merrill Lynch subsidiary into B of A's consumer banking unit. Why? Because that unit has about a trillion dollars in customer deposits that are insured by Uncle Sam. So, if Merrill's sorry investments cause the banking unit to fail, the feds would be there to rescue it.

[...]

Why should we let these failed capitalists turn into corporate socialists every time they get in trouble?

  Jim Hightower

Uh…they own us?

....but hey, do what you want....you will anyway.

USA! USA! We're Number ONE!

Uh…number 27?

A foundation in Germany has analyzed the social justice records of all 31 members of the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development, ranking each nation in such categories as health care, income inequality, pre-school education, and child poverty rate. The overall performance by the U.S. – which boasts of being an egalitarian society – outranks only Greece, Chile, Mexico, and Turkey. Actually, even three of those countries performed better than ours in the education of pre-schoolers, and Greece did better than the U.S. on the prevention of poverty.

[...]

[Our] nation is fabulously rich, ranking well ahead of nearly all OECD members in national wealth, so there is no excuse for us sitting at the bottom of the list in education, health care, poverty, and other measures of a democratic and egalitarian society.

  Jim Hightower

Yeah, Jim? Who’s saying we’re democratic and egalitarian?

....but hey, do what you want....you will anyway.

You Cannot Compete

Seriously. Cannot. Here's an interesting story about how healthy-food vendors are shut down in order to favor corporate food sellers and business interests.

....but hey, do what you want....you will anyway.

Brave New World


Interesting encounter near Zuccotti Park.

From what I’ve seen, it’s a society in which a somewhat surly, armed man sitting 25 feet up in a little metal box spying on people, protected by a similarly armed, perhaps slightly confused, young man in a car, would be considered odd and unnecessary. The fact that New York City is now a place where you’re not supposed to notice such things, much less question them (and, if you do, you’re questioned for it), says a lot about where the United States is as a society and why, perhaps, there are hardy souls braving the cold in Zuccotti Park to build a new one.

  Nick Turse, Alternet

....but hey, do what you want....you will anyway.

Supply Your Own Comments

For years, Palestinians have complained about the use of force at roadblocks by the Israel Defense Force. This week a tragedy has highlighted those concerns for the Israeli populace after the IDF killed a 55-year-old Israeli rabbi and settler, Dan Mertzbach, after he failed to stop.

[...]

Soldiers opened fire after he failed to stop at a temporary checkpoint in the southern West Bank. The roadblock was set up after reports of a suspicious car on the road. The two passengers were wounded. In addition, the soldier who fired the shots was injured when he ran toward the car and was hit by a passing Palestinian truck.

[...]

Notably, according to reports today, “[t]he Defense Ministry announced to the National Insurance Institute on Friday that Mertzbach will be recognized as the victim of a ‘terror event.’”

The designation of the victim of a “terror event” will allow payment to the family.

  Jonathan Turley

Not to mention add to the inflated list of "Palestinian" terrorist attacks they use to whine about being overrun by a ruthless enemy.

....but hey, do what you want....you will anyway.

Okay, sorry, that was my comment. Not your own.

No Wonder Liquor Is So Popular

It was possible, once, for communities to experiment with everything from free love to an end to private property. But nowadays even the palest federalism is swiftly crushed. If your state tries to place tariffs on companies doing business with some notorious human-rights-violator state – like Massachusetts did, when it sought to bar state contracts to firms doing business with Myanmar – the decision will be overturned by some distant global bureaucracy like the WTO. Even if 40 million Californians vote tomorrow to allow themselves to smoke a joint, the federal government will never permit it. And the economy is run almost entirely by an unaccountable oligarchy in Lower Manhattan that absolutely will not sanction any innovations in banking or debt forgiveness or anything else that might lessen its predatory influence.

[...]

We're all born wanting the freedom to imagine a better and more beautiful future. But modern America has become a place so drearily confining and predictable that it chokes the life out of that built-in desire. Everything from our pop culture to our economy to our politics feels oppressive and unresponsive. We see 10 million commercials a day, and every day is the same life-killing chase for money, money and more money; the only thing that changes from minute to minute is that every tick of the clock brings with it another space-age vendor dreaming up some new way to try to sell you something or reach into your pocket. The relentless sameness of the two-party political system is beginning to feel like a Jacob's Ladder nightmare with no end; we're entering another turn on the four-year merry-go-round, and the thought of having to try to get excited about yet another minor quadrennial shift in the direction of one or the other pole of alienating corporate full-of-shitness is enough to make anyone want to smash his own hand flat with a hammer.

  Matt Taibbi, Rolling Stone

....but hey, do what you want....you will anyway.

We MUST Stop Iran!

Israel is waging an intense campaign to drag us into war [against Iran] on their behalf, and they aren’t trying to hide it. What they are intent on hiding, however, is the way in which our Congress, our public officials, and our political culture are being bought off by their proxies. We ship billions to Tel Aviv, and they ship it back to us in the form of propaganda and relentless pressure to bend the White House and Congress to their will.

That’s what’s so “special” about the “special relationship” – the same relationship a tapeworm has to a stomach.

  Justin Raimondo


A series of news reports linking Israel's intelligence agency the Mossad to a blast at a military facility in Iran, in which 17 people were killed and a further 15 wounded, has gained widespread coverage in the Israeli media on Monday.

While Iranian officials insist the explosion at the Bid Ganeh base was accidental, caused by the movement of ammunition, claims from anonymous western and Israeli officials that Saturday's blast was a covert Israeli operation have gained momentum.

  UK Guardian

Hmmmm…If Iran is so hell bent on destroying Israel, as we are constantly being told, then why would they deny that Israel was responsible for the blast?

Leading Israeli daily Yediot Ahronot picked up a post by US blogger Richard Silverstein claiming [unsubstantiated] the Mossad had teamed up with Iranian militant group Mujahideen e-Khalq (MEK) to execute the alleged attack.

Ah, the MEK – the terrorists group that is being supported and defended by many a leading US official? Which makes the denial by the Iranian government all the more at odds with the idea that Iran wants to wipe Israel off the face of the earth, since Iran is currently claiming that the MEK is behind the recent fool’s errand regarding the supposed attempt to assassinate the Saudi ambassador to the US.

Leftwing broadsheet Ha'aretz also led with reports that a western intelligence source quoted in Time magazine had claimed the Mossad carried out the attack in an attempt to stall Iran's development of a nuclear weapon.

[...]

The blast at the base, which is reported to have been a storage facility for long-range missiles, was so powerful that it was said to be felt 30 miles away in the capital, Tehran.

Among those killed was Major General Hassan Moghaddam, the Revolutionary Guard Commander charged with "ensuring self-sufficiency" in armaments and described by Iranian media as a pioneer in Iranian missile development.

Israel's Defence Minister Ehud Barak responded to news of Moghaddam's death saying: "May there be more like it."

And Iran wouldn’t take this opportunity to use against Israel? I thought they were hot-headed, blood-thirsty devils.

The Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu's office refused to comment on growing speculation of the Mossad's involvement. Ilan Mizrahi, former head of the National Security Council and former deputy head of the Mossad, also would not be drawn into substantiating the claims: "I have no idea whether this blast was accidental or whether it was sabotage but I will say God bless those who were behind it because the free world should be doing its best to prevent Iran from achieving nuclear military capability."

Amen. They’re hot-headed, blood-thirsty devils.

Israel has been linked to several previous incidents in Iran similar to Saturday's explosion, including an explosion at a Shahab facility in south-western Iran in 2010 and a bomb attack earlier that year in Tehran, in which Iranian physicist Masoud Ali Mohammadi was killed.

What? And Iran hasn’t retaliated?

....but hey, do what you want....you will anyway.

Coming Soon to an Occupy Near You

So far, there have been few clashes between the Occupy forces and the police, although Oakland and New York have both seen some dramatic confrontations and the events at the UC campus in Berkeley last week were downright brutal. There have been many arrests, however, and some of the communities are starting to react unfavourably to the demonstrators, demanding that the occupations disperse. The big question for everyone is what will happen if they don't.

[...]

Reporter Ando Arick analysed the new generation of weaponry in an article in Harper's called "The Soft-Kill Solution - New Frontiers In Pain Compliance". He recounts a 60 Minutes investigation into a new weapon to be used for what the military said was "crowd control in Iraq".

Yet in military exercises in Georgia, soldiers were dressed as protesters, carrying signs that say "world peace", "love for all" and "peace not war" for some reason. In what was presented as a choice between backing off and shooting into the crowd, the audience was then shown that a "ray gun" was on top of the Humvee.

"An operator squeezes off a blast. The first shot hits them like an invisible punch. The protesters regroup, and he fires again, and again. Finally they’ve had enough. The ray gun drives them away with no harm done."
Except for the repeated "invisible punches", of course. But like the Taser, the whole point of this "pain compliance" is to inflict short-term physical agony on human beings to "induce behavioural modification".

They have developed plans for a flying drone that fires stun darts at suspects, a "Shockwave Area-Denial System", which blankets the area in question with electrified darts, and a wireless Taser projectile with a 100-metre range, helpful for picking off "ringleaders" in unruly crowds.

Would the public balk? Probably not. After all, they've accepted the Taser to such an extent that it's now a staple of movie comedies and viral YouTube videos. The ground has been well-prepared. And after all, just as the government has expanded its police powers and built up its arsenal of "pain compliance" weaponry, the broader culture was lifting the centuries-old taboo against torture.

[...]

We have essentially normalised torture and created a high-tech police apparatus with more capability than any military in history. Human nature suggests that if you build it, they will use it.

alJazeera


....but hey, do what you want....you will anyway.

The Latest Commercial Entertainment

Or as the networks like to call it: the debates.

Ron Paul says waterboarding is torture, illegal under international law, and immoral, and uncivilized, and doesn’t work. Huntsman agrees.

  WIIIAI

So, they’re out, then. No self-respecting GOPer would vote for a weenie.

Can a president simply order the killing of an American citizen suspected of terrorism? Absolutely, says Romney. [...] And a couple of seconds after that he said, “And I will stand and use whatever means necessary within the law to make sure that we protect America’s citizens and Americans’ rights.” Law? Rights?

And this is the GOP nominee. Who else have they got? Bachmann the Nut? Cain the Who-Knows-What? Gingrich, whom nobody even wants to hear any more? Santorum? Yeah, right.

Romney calls for a trade war against China, because there’s a trade war going on now.

Everything has to be a war. There can be no peace. Only the pretended desire for it.

And where the hell are the Democratic presidential hopefuls? Why is it that once a party is in office, they simply presume that the same guy will stand in the following cycle? This isn’t a team sport. Right? Ha. You know darned well that there are bookies for this just like in any other sport.

....but hey, do what you want....you will anyway.

And One More Thing

The United States has not explicitly ruled out China’s entrance into the TPP, but Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has linked the “21st century” trade agreement to fundamental values including openness and labor standards.

Obama, seeking re-election next year as many heartland Americans think they lost their jobs to lower-wage China, told Hu on Saturday that Americans were “impatient” for a change in Beijing’s economic policy.

Raw Story

He thinks Americans are antsy for a change in China’s economic policy? Surely he jests. Or I suppose that’s the “royal” use of “Americans?” He really means himself and his handlers.

I have a question. Why do “heartland Americans” think they lost their jobs to lower-wage China? Because China is fundamentally evil? Could they possibly wrap their heads around the fact that it’s the corporations running things here in this country that resulted in the jobs going to China? Maybe if Faux News would tell them that truth they could. They’re like pitchfork mobs; they’ll swarm around whatever idiot shouts the loudest and dangles a light in front of their eyes.

Obama scrapped the tradition of kitting out APEC leaders in local costume for the obligatory end of summit “family photo.”

“I got rid of the Hawaiian shirts because I had looked at pictures of some of the previous APEC meetings and some of the garb that had appeared previously, and I thought this may be a tradition that we might want to break,” he said afterwards at a closing press conference.

Okay, which country is he dissing?

....but hey, do what you want....you will anyway.

PS..what's with the guy in the back? The only guy who's in reality world and refuses to listen to the smarm and foolishness? Lalalalala...I can't heeeeeeear you.

Speaking of the Trans-Pacific "Partnership"

US President Barack Obama’s push to create the world’s largest free trade zone spanning the Pacific gained momentum on Sunday as Canada and Mexico followed Japan into accession talks.

[...]

“Today we have got a chance to make progress towards our ultimate goal which is a seamless regional economy,” Obama told the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) forum, which accounts for more than half the world’s GDP.

  Raw Story

Well, I think he means “global” economy. But I guess we have to do it region by region.

“I want to emphasize that the Asia-Pacific region is absolutely critical to America’s economic growth."

Don’t even have to couch it in euphemisms. This is for us.

And since NAFTA has worked out so well for Mexico, I can see why they would join in on this, too. Sheesh.

....but hey, do what you want....you will anyway.

I Don't Know Which is Less Commendable: the Crowd or the Entertainer

Makana, [popular Hawaiian recording artist], was enlisted to play a luau, or Hawaiian feast [hosted by President Barack Obama], Saturday night for leaders assembled in Obama’s birthplace Honolulu for an annual summit that is formulating plans for a Pacific free-trade pact.

[...]

The performance occurred at a dinner for summit participants from 21 economies around the Asia-Pacific, including Chinese President Hu Jintao and Russian President Dmitry Medvedev, amid a security lockdown in Waikiki.

[...]

[In] the midst of the dinner on the resort strip Waikiki Beach, [Makana] pulled open his jacket to reveal a T-shirt that read “Occupy with Aloha,” using the Hawaiian word whose various meanings include love and peace. He then sang a marathon version of his new song “We Are The Many.”

[...]

As Makana sang, about 400 protesters including anti-globalization and native Hawaiian rights activists staged a protest march toward the dinner site but turned back after encountering the smothering security.

[...]

“I was pretty nervous. In fact I was terrified. I kept thinking ‘what are the consequences going to be?’” Makana, 33, told AFP.

“It was incredibly comical. I was terrified but also enjoying it,” he said.

Raw Story

As it turns out, Obama wasn’t even paying attention.

Makana, who was born Matthew Swalinkavich, said the song prompted awkward stares from a few of those present but the Obamas appeared too absorbed with their guests to notice what was happening.

Swalinkavich? That sounds downright communistic! Who was in charge of booking the entertainment? The same guy who booked Stephen Colbert for the press dinner with George Bush?

The song features the refrain, “We’ll occupy the streets, we’ll occupy the courts, we’ll occupy the offices of you, till you do the bidding of the many, not the few.”

He sang it “over and over” for 40 minutes, varying his tempo and delivery to avoid triggering an overt reaction.

“Whenever I felt the heat might come down, I would ease off. It was a very careful procedure,” he said.

So, Mashka, then what was the point? Your "protest" song can be used essentially as elevator music. Background. White noise. Way to go.

PS: Agence France-Presse reports Makana simply as a protester who managed to get through the security. Nice try. I don't think so.

....but hey, do what you want....you will anyway.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Cool, But...

"We are confident that in the near future we will be able to bring the first shoes, T-shirts and bags, that are either compostable or recyclable, to the market," Puma boss Franz Koch told the German business magazine Wirtschaftswoche.

  UK Guardian

But isn’t Puma aware of cotton T-shirts?

....but hey, do what you want....you will anyway.

In Occupation News

Tensions were rising at anti-Wall Street protests in three western U.S. cities on Friday as demonstrators in Portland, Salt Lake City and Oakland defied orders by police to dismantle their camps.

In Portland, police said they had received reports that protesters were digging a reinforced hole and fashioning make-shift weapons out of wood and nails after Mayor Sam Adams gave them until midnight on Saturday to clear out of two downtown parks.

Police said they believed Occupy Portland organizers had also put out a call for reinforcements from Oakland, Seattle and San Francisco as they prepared for a confrontation.

“There may even be as many as 150 anarchists who will arrive soon,” Portland police said in a written statement.

“There is information that people may be in the trees during a police action and that there are people who are attempting to obtain a large number of gas masks,” the statement said.

Occupy Portland organizers, who say their encampment numbers between 500 and 800 people, denied that they were making weapons or recruiting anarchists for a pitched battle and insisted that they were a nonviolent movement.

  Raw Story

Which has to die. Therefore, the powers that be will paint them violent and infiltrate them to bring on a violent confrontation.

“Occupy Portland” has touted its highly-organized peaceful protest. The group has even won the praise of some city officials, including the mayor, and Members of Congress. But the open and inclusive nature of the demonstration has attracted some troubled individuals.

In recent weeks, there have been multiple drug overdoses and numerous arrests for drug offenses and other crimes.

  Raw Story

Which points up the existence of a sizeable homeless population of mentally disturbed, desperate, and addicted people who are bound to be absorbed into a larger population of people essentially living on the street and are now open prey.

Elsewhere…

A group of “Occupy Springfield” protesters attended the 7th District of Missouri Republican Assembly’s monthly meeting on Saturday to make their viewpoints known, according to KY3 News.

“Major corporations and very wealthy individuals have more influence on our political process than the average person does,” said Christopher Smith. “I would like to restore the level of fairness that I believe all of us really want to have in our system of government.”

The group did not disrupt the event, but Republican Rep. Todd Akins said some people felt the protesters had “[crashed] their party.”

  Raw Story

Their grand old party?

The “Occupy Springfield” protesters plan to attend meetings by Democrats as well because both parties pander to large corporations, they said.

[...]

Police arrested eight “Occupy Springfield” protesters after they refused to leave a vacant lot near the Springfield Expo Center on Friday.

One protester had a dollar bill taped to his forehead, which was taken by the jail. The cash was returned as a debit card requiring a fee to use.

Perfect.

....but hey, do what you want....you will anyway.

Yep, This Is Where We Are

Slightly more than two months after he was awarded the 2009 Nobel Peace Prize, President Obama secretly ordered a cruise missile attack on Yemen, using cluster bombs, which killed 44 innocent civilians, including 14 women and 21 children, as well as 14 people alleged to be “militants.” It goes without saying that — unless you want Rick Perry to win in 2012 — this act should in no way be seen as marring Obama’s presidency or his character: what’s a couple dozen children blown up as a part of a covert, undeclared air war?

[...]

Given how indiscriminate and civilian-threatening these weapons are, more than 100 countries have signed a treaty banning their production and use and compelling compensation to their victims. Needless to say, the U.S. has categorically refused to join the Convention, along with the other biggest stockpilers of these weapons, such as Russia, Israel and China. The Obama administration’s refusal to join the Convention has caused tension and controversy even with its most subservient allies, such as Britian, a signatory to the treaty. The British Parliament had insisted that the U.S. rid itself of all cluster munitions at American bases on British soil, but a WikiLeaks cable revealed that “British and American officials colluded in a plan to hoodwink parliament” through “the use of a loophole to manoeuvre around the ban and allow the US to keep the munitions on British territory.”

[...]

The Pentagon claims that newer cluster bombs can be used more safely, but activists have documented that “many modern cluster bombs have far higher failure rates on the field of battle than manufacturers claim.”

[...]

According to The Independent, the U.S. is [now] playing the leading role “to torpedo the global ban on cluster bombs” through a “proposal that would permit the use of cluster bombs as long as they were manufactured after 1980 and had a failure rate of less than one per cent.”

  Glenn Greenwald

And why? So we can crow about signing an agreement to outlaw the use of cluster bombs made prior to 1980? And isn’t that precious? In 1980 somebody decided to make a “safer” cluster bomb. Oh wait. That’s “safer to use.”

So it isn’t only massively increased, secret drone attacks in numerous Muslim countries around the world that will be an enduring foreign policy legacy of the Obama presidency. Nor will it be merely the death knell of the War Powers Resolution from his prosecution of the war in Libya even in the face of a Congressional vote against its authorization, nor the continuation and — in some cases expansion — of the most controversial Bush/Cheney Terrorism policies. We will also be ensured of living in a world where the use of cluster bombs continues unabated.

....but hey, do what you want....you will anyway.

It's Sunday

Can I get an amen?

....but hey, do what you want....you will anyway.

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Managed Care for Countries

Berlusconi's fate was sealed when Italian bonds broke the 7 percent mark, thereby threatening to lower, slightly, the gargantuan profit margins of the rapacious speculators who gorge themselves on chaos and suffering.

[...]

Now the Italian government is to be led by a "technocrat" -- i.e., an unelected apparatchik of the global financial elite. Just as in Greece, where a regime change was imposed after the elected leader had the temerity -- the unmitigated gall -- to suggest asking the Greek people if they approved the savage gutting of their society to preserve the profits of our gilded gorgers. Democracy -- in Greece? Outrageous! Well, he's gone now, and an American-educated elitist apparatchik has been appointed -- not elected -- in his place. It's the very latest in "managed democracy": no muss, no fuss, no messy voting!

This kind of thing couldn't happen in the United States, of course.

  Chris Floyd

....but hey, do what you want....you will anyway.

No One Is Safe from the Religious Violence Virus

The FBI is investigating a series of incidents in which Amish men [...] allegedly break into the homes of mainstream Amish and cut off their hair and beards, which are symbols of faith in the Amish community. So far there have been five arrests of members of the Bergholz clan.

Mullet is also accused of running his clan like a cult, and in one incident reportedly forced a member of the clan to stay in a chicken coop for 15 days in the middle of winter over a religious disagreement.

TPM

Yes, that’s the hair cutting capo dei capi’s name: Sam Mullet.

Or should that be capelli dei capelli?


Complicated By Design

[No] one should take too seriously Republican complaints about burdensome regulations strangling the economy. The truth is that most reformers prefer fairly simple rules. In the tax world, they'd prefer to simply tax all income. In the environmental world, they'd prefer to set firm limits for pollutants. In the financial world, they'd prefer blunt rules that cut off risky activity at its knees.

But businesses don't like simple rules, because simple rules are hard to evade. So they lobby endlessly for exemptions both big and small. This is why we end up with tax subsidies for bow-and-arrow makers. It's why we end up with environmental rules that treat a hundred different industries a hundred different ways. It's why financial regulators don't enact simple leverage rules or place firm asset caps on firm size. Those would be hard to get around and might genuinely eat into bank profits. Complex rules, conversely, are the meat and drink of $500-per-hour lawyers and whiz kid engineers. If the rules are complicated enough, smart lawyers can always find ways around them. And American corporations employ lots of smart lawyers.

Keep this firmly in mind the next time you hear someone from the Chamber of Commerce complaining about how many thousands of pages of regulations they have to comply with. Some of that is inevitable: We live in a complex world, and that means the rules are sometimes complex too. But they don't have to be anywhere near as complex as they end up being. We could have a simple tax code, simple environment rules, and blunt financial regulations. We could probably cut the size of agency regulations by 10 times if we wanted to.

But businesses don't want to. Sure, they'd prefer no regulation at all, but they know that's not in the cards. So in public they bemoan complexity, but in private they fight endlessly for more of it. To their lawyers, every single extra page is an extra opportunity to make more money.

  Kevin Drum

"Here's the key word in the rules: 'exemption,'" former Senator Ted Kaufman, Democrat of Delaware, told me. "Let me tell you, as soon as you see that, it's pronounced 'loophole.' That's what it means in English." Mr. Kaufman, now teaching at Duke University School of Law, earlier proposed a tougher version of the Volcker Rule, which was voted down in the Senate. "We've been through this before," he said. "I know these folks, these Wall Street guys. I went to school with them. They're smart as hell. You give them the smallest little hole, and they'll run through it."

  NYT

....but hey, do what you want....you will anyway.

What's Going On?

Not a peep on the interwebs about Obama and Sarkozy calling Netanyahu a liar and a pain in the ass since the story broke several days ago. That's kind of hard to fathom.

....but hey, do what you want....you will anyway.

A Rare Conviction

A US army sergeant has been convicted of murdering unarmed civilians and cutting fingers from their corpses as ringleader of a rogue platoon in Afghanistan's south.

But the jury at a court-martial hearing on Thursday decided against the automatic life sentence for Staff Sergeant Calvin Gibbs, 26, saying he would be eligible for parole after serving eight and a half years.

[...]

The verdict and sentence marked the culmination of an 18-month investigation of the most egregious atrocities that US military personnel have been convicted of committing during a decade of war in Afghanistan.

Pentagon officials have said the misconduct exposed by the case, which evolved from an investigation of drug abuse within Gibbs' Stryker Brigade infantry unit, damaged the US image around the globe.

[...]

  alJazeera

While indeed egregious, I hope we haven’t forgotten Abu Ghraib and other prisons. Of course, not too many have been convicted of any atrocities. It’s interesting to note that this case of “misconduct” (!) would likely not have even been pursued (or perhaps even reported) had it not been for a drug abuse investigation.

But really, “Pentagon officials,” you think this case damaged the US image around the globe? I’m pretty sure that would be a difficult feat to accomplish, the image being what it is.

His civilian lawyer, Phillip Stackhouse, asked the panel for leniency in its parole decision, saying Gibbs had ample time for reflection during his pre-trial confinement and "is not the same person he was when he went to Afghanistan".

Oh my dear. He had to be punished in addition to having reflected? The horror. Although, actually, the lawyer doesn’t actually say he even reflected, just that he had “ample” time to.

He said his client wished for the chance to be reunited with his young son at some point in the future.

How ironic. Of course, the men he murdered probably didn’t have any family.

Major Dre Leblanc, a military prosecutor, argued against parole, reminding the panel that Gibbs had often said of the Afghan people he terrorised: "These people are all savages, look at how they live."

[...]

Testifying in his own defence last Friday, Gibbs said he had "disassociated" himself from his actions while in combat and likened the removal of fingers from dead bodies to the taking of antlers from a deer.

[...]

Besides charges of murder, conspiracy and other offenses, he was found guilty of beating a soldier who reported hashish use to superiors and of military code violations for cutting fingers off bodies as war trophies.

War is hell.

....but hey, do what you want....you will anyway.

Friday, November 11, 2011

A Tribute to Sandy

11/11/11 End the wars.

Marion Lee “Sandy” Kempner
(April 16, 1942 - November 11, 1966
)

There is a room on the third floor of the Rosenberg Library in Galveston, Texas, labeled “Sandy’s Room.” The furnishing of it was funded by one of Galveston's "upper crust" families, and is dedicated to the memory of Marion Lee “Sandy” Kempner, who was killed in the Viet Nam war. Sandy Kempner was, by all accounts, a remarkable young man. He attended Duke University where he was on the Dean’s List, he spent time in the Peace Corps, and after initially deciding to enter law school at age 24, Sandy instead enlisted in the US Marine Corps, leaving behind a life of sailing and society, wealth and influence – influence which you will glimpse when you read about his being visited in the jungles of Viet Nam by a representative of Brown & Root (as in KBR/Halliburton)* at the behest of his mother to see that his platoon got needed equipment. Sandy landed in Viet Nam in July of 1966, and died there a few short months later on November 11.

Following are excerpts from letters printed in the American Jewish Archives journal under a chapter called “Letters from Sandy.” The first two excerpts are from letters to the Kempner family from Marines expressing condolences for their loss, and the remainder are taken from letters from Sandy to his family while serving in Viet Nam.

* Raymond International, Morrison-Knudsen, Brown & Root, and J.A. Jones Construction - calling itself "The Vietnam Builders." [...] The Vietnam Builders had entered into a contract with the US federal government, via the U.S. Navy, as the exclusive contractor for the huge military buildup that was to come; there would be no open bidding or otherwise competitive process.

RMK-BRJ did 97% of the construction work in Vietnam. The other 3% went to local Vietnamese contractors. Between 1965 and 1972 Brown & Root (Halliburton) alone obtained revenues of $380 million from its work in Vietnam.


~~~~~

January 20, 1967
Dear Mr. and Mrs. Kempner:

I recently received the news that your son and my friend Lt. Kempner was killed in Vietnam. No news could be more tragic. I am truly very sorry and wish to express my sincere sympathy for you and your family.

[...]

I wrote to you once before when your son was in the hospital with a gunshot wound. Your son had asked Sgt. Dees to write to you but Sgt. Dees found it difficult and asked me to write a letter for him which I did; because Sgt. Dees had been asked to write we decided that he should sign his name. I'm sure that he and you will forgive me but because of this and your very kind reply to that letter, I feel that I know you and the love you had for your son.

My name is Ken MacLean, and I was the Company corpsman assigned to 1st platoon Mike 3-7. Lt. Kempner was my platoon commander, but he was also my friend.

[...]

I think that Lt. Kempner believed very strongly in what we were doing in Vietnam. He was concerned about the people and how they reacted to our presence. Your son went on many patrols that he didn't have to in order to gain a better knowledge of the terrain and also to see to the safety of his troops.

[...]

I treated your son when he was wounded the first time, and he helped me when I was shot through the face on November 7.

[...]

If you can understand, there is a kind of love that you feel for men with whom you go through a little bit of hell with. I am sure that Lt. Kempner felt it for his men and that his men felt it for him. That is why it is difficult to express my sense of loss and to express my heart felt sympathy for your loss. And it is that love that makes me want to help ease your grief. Please forgive me if my effort is in any way adding to your grief.

[...]

I feel very helpless at this moment and I can only pray that your
grief is not more than you can bear, and that you might know that your son's death was not in vain. His courage and sense of duty will be a source of inspiration to many of us who were associated with him.

Your son recommended me for the Silver Star for doing nothing more than what he had done many times. I shall always cherish that recommendation and the memory of the man that made it.

Yours sincerely,
(Sgd) Ken MacLean

~~~~~

January 12, 1967
Dear Sir:

[...]

Sandy led by example and never hesitated to expose himself to direct his troops or close with the enemy. The executive officer of the battalion told me he just met Sandy on patrol-they engaged the VCs in a sharp flurry and the major said, "While I was ducking for cover behind some rocks, there was Sandy frowning over his map and pointing towards the VCs, standing bolt up, utterly ignoring the fire." He was what the Marine Corps calls a hard-charger. Both the battalion executive and his company commander thought he had the makings of a top officer and were hoping he would make the Marines a career

[...]

Johnson said, "He was exuberant and outgoing-He didn't hesitate to say what he thought and felt, even if it didn't follow the official line-He was fresh, eager and determined, just what a platoon commander should be. He left his mark on his troops and would have been heard from and would have been known throughout the Corps if he had decided to make it a career."

[...]

The exact circumstances of his death were recounted to me in detail [...] The refugees had fled from My Loc, where the enemy build-up had caused an increased demand for rice and the villagers were pressed into service as coolies and serfs. In desperation, thousands of them had quit the area en masse, bringing literally nothing with them when they came walking into Tien Phu/Chulai. So the Marines decided to escort them back to their homes that they might gather their rice harvests and collect their belongings.

[...]

It was on one such patrol that Sandy was hit. He was leading his platoon and they were coming in west to east from a patrol of the outer paddies when they spotted a booby trap (a Chinese Communist grenade with a trip wire attached). This they disarmed. No sooner had they proceeded 30 yards when they saw another mine; this was a 35 pound high-explosive 105 mm. artillery round. Sandy disarmed it and then picked it up, placed it on his shoulder and told the patrol to move out toward base, where he would turn the round over to the G-2 shop. Some 200 yards farther they came to a fast running stream and cut north to a fording point. That too was mined and a Marine near Sandy tripped it-there was an explosion and Sandy and another Marine went down. Sandy directed the corpsman to take care of the other Marine first. When they examined Sandy, they found he had been struck in the abdomen by a piece of shrapnel. [...] He was conscious but in deep shock. He was not in pain at all but his coloring was not good. Within a few minutes, a helicopter arrived on the scene to medevac both Marines. His platoon sergeant, Staff Sergeant William Krajcigs, carried Sandy to the helicopter. During the flight to the hospital, he succumbed and his heart stopped beating.

[...]

But, to write for a minute as a Marine, from talking to those who knew him in combat, I know he left something. He loved his men and watched out for them and cared for them. And they remember him and will continue to do so throughout their lives. They're not much for writing because they don't quite know what to say. [...] He will be missed and he will be remembered in these ranks.[...] He was what we think a commander of Marines should be: professional but human, both very brave and compassionate.

[...]

Yours sincerely,
(Sgd.) Bing,
F.J. WEST, Jr. Capt. USMC (R)

~~~~~

Letters from Sandy


20 July, 1966
Dear Mom and Dad:

I'm in Viet Nam. I'm in the First Division, which is based in Chu Lai. My Regiment is the 7th which is, of course, generally regarded as the best in the Marine Corps, and my Battalion, the 3rd, has done the most and the best fighting in that Regiment. My Company, "Mike" or "M", has just moved to a new position and is having some opposition. I know that this will not be appreciated by all, but I must say that I'm terribly happy to be here and I am feeling quite confident about the whole scene.

[...]

Love,
Sandy

~~~~~

24 July 1966
Dear Mom, Dad and Etc.:

I am very sorry that I have not written in so long, but life has been getting a little hectic around here. I will say only that I have had my first ablution in three days this morning and have yet to shave off my four-day beard, but there's hope,-I finally got to take off my boots to pour the water off!

[...]

I'm in Mike Company, on a hill called Tren Dan, which is about one mile north of the Song Tra Bang River at about Coordinate 574924. Two days before I got here we were almost overrun, with my Platoon taking the brunt of the losses, but now we have fire and tanks with infrared yet. We are probed every night, and I have patrols every night, and it would all be exciting as hell if I had time to think about it.

The monsoons seem to have started early and it's raining every night, two to seven feet of water in every hole.

[...]

I would give my left nut to have a hot shower, but I would give both to have enough equipment for my men. But we will get all of it as soon as the clerks and dentists and et cetera at Division and Regiment finish picking out what they want.

[...]

Love,
Sandy

~~~~~

1 August, 1966
Dear Mom and Dad, Shrub, Peach and ?:

[...]

Life is creeping on in its petty pace: patrols, ambushes and snipers. One satisfaction is that out of necessity I have become a scavenger and now I am a familiar sight in salvage yards, trash dumps, supply sheds and the like. In a party at Battalion I saw an ice box lying around unattended and was thinking seriously how I could steal it, when I turned to find the S-4 and the X.0 of Battalion watching me attentively as they had been warned of my newfound talent and latent proclivities.

[...]

I don't think I can be any more detailed as to my location except to say that my Co-ordinates are 573922, and if you see nothing on the map of this location, don't let it throw you. Not even Rand McNally would be found dead in this place.

[...]

Love,
Sandy

~~~~~

7 August, 1966
Dear Mom, Dad, and And So Forth:

Jesus, Mom, three rainsuits? Anyway, thanks for getting them to me so quickly as it rained the night I got them. I put one pair on, only to find myself sweating to death, but then, jumping from the pot into the fire is my forte anyway.

[...]

I have just given a class on ambushes. I was chosen because of my charm, intelligence, and messianic-like personality, and besides, I am the only graduate of the Basic School besides the Captain in the whole Company and therefore have all the books.

[...]

So I gave a brilliant dissertation on the fine art and the finer points of committing mayhem from a hidden position on unsuspecting and probably innocent people to a sea of young and blank faces. As I finished there were resounding cries of "Bravo," "Encore," etc., flowers were thrown, and I was carried off to my tent by my audience. As I think I might have stated, my Sergeant got my people into shape and they are now obeying orders without question, as exampled by the above.

[...]

Mom, don't worry about the shortages here. As I wrote Jim Kean, after listing a long line of bitches and complaints, "In short, it's like all wars have ever been, except that I'm in this one."

Love,
Sandy

~~~~~

August 9, 1966
Dear Mummum and Muggins:

[...]

Muggins, I am told that to put it mildly, you have some reservations about this [...] You, of course, are not alone in these feelings but a couple of points should be made. Our claim to legality is that we were invited to come here by the Viet Nam government and, however flimsy that legality is, considering the flimsiness of the government's claim as the legally constituted one of this country, such is the peg upon which we hang our hat, and it is a lot stronger than many we have hung it on before, such as the Spanish-American War, a host of expeditions against South American sovereignties, or, for that matter, our declaration of war against Germany in World War I. But the legality or lack of it is really of no importance because our friends on the other side are not bothered by such trivialities and, if we are, then we can primly say that we have followed the legal and narrow trail and to lose the battle to an opponent who is not playing by our rules. We are here because we think this is where we must fight to stop a Communist threat, but not having gained momentum in conquering this country could bow us out of Asia altogether. And perhaps out of existence.

[...]

Love,
Sandy

~~~~~

12 August, 1966
Dear Almoo:

[...]

We have been doing a lot of work in the villages lately, of the community development type, so it looks as though I will never get away from the Peace Corps days. We must be really messing up these people's minds: by day we treat their ills and fix up their children and deliver their babies, and by night, if we receive fire from the general direction of their hamlet, fire generally will reach them albeit not intentionally; they must really be going around in circles. But I guess that just points up the strangeness of this war. We have two hands, both of which know what the other is doing, but does the opposite anyway.

[...]

Love,
Sandy

~~~~~

2 September, 1966
Dear Mom, Dad, Shrub, the Egg and Peach:

Sorry to be so long in writing, but I have just come back from an abortion called Operation Jackson and I spent a three-day's "walk in the sun" (and paddies and fields and mountains and impenetrable jungle and saw-grass and ants, and screwed-up radios and no word, and deaf radio operators, and no chow, and too many C-rations, and blisters & torn trousers and jungle rot, and wet socks and sprained ankles and no heels, and, and, and,) for a Battalion that walked on roads and dykes the whole way and a Regiment that didn't even know where the Battalion was, finished off by a 14,000 meter forced march on a hard road.

[...]

Then, two days after we got back, we played Indian Scout, and my Platoon splashed its way through a rice paddy at 3:30 in the morning in a rainstorm to surround a hamlet which we managed to do somehow without alerting everyone in the district, which is surprising as we made enough noise to wake up a Marine sentry. It was "very successful" since we managed to kill a few probably innocent civilians, found a few caves and burned a few houses, all in a driving rain storm.

[...]

Love,
Sandy

~~~~~

September ?, 1966
Dear Mom, Dad, Shrub, Peach and Pet:

For God sake, put another twist in the cornucopia. Between the food and all the ants that are trying to get at it, there is no room for anyone on the hill. I have received three (3) packages, two of food and one of socks, and the two envelopes of lemonade, etc. and of magazines. Now everyone can relax, I don't need any more of anything except the magazine and occasional boxes of cookies as I am surfeited with stuff that I will never eat through, although my Platoon and Company might achieve that goal in slightly less time.

Now, Mom, do not-I repeat, do not go tilting at any windmills over this supply thing. Most of this gear is here. It is just a little slow in getting to us sometimes, and frequently you are a little faster (as usual).

[...]

Please, mom, don't bitch to anybody. Everything is all right, except that there's a war on.

Love,
Sandy

~~~~~

September 16, 1966
Dear Mom and Dad, doting father-to-be, Peach and Fuzzy:

While walking down the road one day, in the merry, merry month of September, my squad got into a heluva fray, and lost (momentarily), one member.

ME!

I am all right, I am all right, I am all right, etc.

A carbine round hit me where it would do the most good, right in the butt, the left buttock to be exact, exiting from the upper thigh. It hit no bones, blood vessels, nerves, or anything else of importance except my pride. It was, however, a little bit closer to my pecker than was comfortable, but that is as good as ever, although it is now going through a year's hibernation.

I am writing this letter in the hospital less than one hour after I got hit; so please don't worry.

Love,
Sandy

~~~~~

Received October 20, 1966
Dear Mom, Dad, Shrub, Peach, and Early Bird:

[...]

Dad, I would like to comment on your statement that this was the wrong war for us to be fighting. In the first place, of course, there has never been a right war for us to fight. War, as our German geniuses say, is politics of a different means, and as a play called Command Decision puts it, war is entered into when politics, reason, discussions, and civilization have failed. It is the return to the primeval ooze.

[...]

We reward those who are for us, neutral, or willing to give up their arms to us (Chu Hoy-Open Arms). It is these for whom we create C.A. [Civic Action] projects like Phu Le3 where, in the initial phases, he can find protection from V.C. if not the legal governmental predators, (but at least now he only has one to pay off to), medical and dietary aid, schools, and simply a chance. We punish others, sometimes, perhaps frequently, innocent others, by destroying their village (which is almost never done, and wouldn't have been in No Name 1 except this Company has lost over 70 men dead and wounded in it or just outside of it), burning individual houses from which we get fire, or just make life so intolerable for them that they have to move. Now they can either go into our protected hamlet or they can go somewhere else, in which case they are probably V.C. or V.C.--influenced. Will it work? Wait and See.

[...]

The constant and consistent invasions of South American sovereign states had little to do with "traditions of decency", and the country which planned and perpetrated the fire bombing of Dusseldorf and Tokyo and the bombing of Nagasaki certainly can't claim any monopoly or tradition of "regard for mankind". We look out for our own interests, sometimes badly and occasionally well. As far as it being dreadful to have to participate here, it is dreadful being here; but as far as the participation, I personally have lost five to ten men in No Name, and was in fact, shot, myself, not 400 meters from it. This strategy may not be perfect, but it makes more sense than anything else I have heard lately, including atom bombing the place, trying to fight an orthodox war in a country which for the most part, is constructed to make that alternative a giant blood bath.

[...]

I met Mr. Brown's man in Viet Nam. He looked as though he belonged as much in the construction business as Aunt Fannie, but he couldn't be nicer. He had evidently gone all the way up to the D.M.Z. to find me, where, but for the grace of the photographers and the deficient light in those regions, I would have been, finally going to Regiment where he queried the Regimental C. 0. as to my whereabouts. That gentleman, Colonel Snoody (would you believe it?) by name, who undoubtedly did not even know of my existence hitherto, now does, and is no doubt damn curious to find out what kind of black market operation I'm running in league with RMK-BRJ. Mr. Ragans came in a civilian truck with a security officer of the Chu Lai RMK-etc. operations named Roma Haynes, who is an All American boy aged 35 with a pot belly, plus an interpreter-none of them armed, and all dressed in loafers, short sleeved shirts, slacks, etc., with about six inches of mud in the dry spots. Mr. Ragans apologized for the absence of Mr. Allison, the head of Brown & Root, who was unavoidably detained in Saigon, but that he had so wanted to come and meet me! [...] They were extremely kind, offering me the refreshment
facilities at their Chu Lai operation, and all the names of all the people to ask for there for that and various and sundry items of which I might find myself in need, which at that point ranged from dry socks, to a claw hammer, to a piece of ass,-and not necessarily in that order, but all of which they assured me were available.

[...]

Tell Mr. Brown that I don't know what he uses to get such response from his people, but if it's anything else besides money, I wish he would tell me so that I can use it on my people! Whatever he did, he obviously used the triple whammy instead of just an every day single or double, which is no doubt a direct result of the person who requested it in the first place. [...] Thank you, Mom.

[...]

Love,
Sandy

~~~~~

Oct. 20, 1966
Dear Aunt Fannie,

[...]

Viet Nam [...] is a country of thorns and cuts, of guns and marauding, of little hope and of great failure, yet in the midst of it all, a beautiful thought, gesture, and even person can arise among
it waving bravely at the death that pours down upon it. Some day this hill will be burned by napalm, and the red flower [on it] will crackle up and die among the thorns. So what was the use of it living and being a beauty among the beasts, if it must, in the end, die because of them, and with them

[...]

There once was a time when the Jewish idea of heaven and hell was the thoughts and opinions people had of you after you died. But what if the plant was on an isolated hill and was never seen by anyone: that is like the question of whether the falling tree makes a sound in the forest primeval when no one is there to hear it: it makes a sound, and the plant was beautiful and the thought was kind; and the person was humane, and distinguished, and brave, not merely because other people recognized it as such, but because it is, and it is, and it is.

[...]

The flower will always live in the memory of a tired, wet Marine, and has thus achieved a sort of immortality; but even if we had never gone on that hill, it would still be a distinguished, soft, red, thornless flower growing among the cutting, scratching plants, and that in itself is its own reward.

[...]

Love,
Sandy

~~~~~

30 Oct. 1966
Dear Marion,

When I last saw you, you professed an interest in the Civic Action programs that were being pursued by the Marine Corps in general and my company in particular, or perhaps it was the company we were keeping at the time.

[...]

Despite the importance placed on the C.A. program, or perhaps because of it, it is impossible to get the right stuff at the right time. To wit: we have a hospital in Phu Le3 and therefore we need medicine [...] Requests for medicine goes in once a month in a form that would take Houdini to unravel. Battalion cuts the request in half, Regiment halves that, then Division, then M.A.F., then CARE, and then God knows who else including the dock workers in Saigon who steal their share. How long does this take? If you are lucky, it takes 45 days from the time Battalion sends in its combined request (all, the companies) to Regiment. If your company sent in its request in the beginning of the month, then the minimum is as much as 75 days. Have you ever had to tell a child with ulcers gaping at you from her arms and legs to wait two months at which time the richest country in the world may send some penicillin which is itself of a type no longer used and whose maximum date of use passed two years ago and which some pharmaceutical company managed to get rid of, gain a reputation for generosity thereby, and garner a tax write-off all at the same time?

[...]

So of course, you don't use the normal channels or at least you don't depend on them. You have career officers in the Marine Corps putting their careers on the line every time they send out troops to steal gear to be used for C.A. work; you have Navy doctors going through warehouses with a basket under their arms stowing boxes of Mercurochrome and bandages surreptitiously in their utilities and the basket like a shoplifter in a grocery store; corpsmen write to nurses to steal medicine from hospitals at home and send them to V.N.; S and G-5 personnel cumshaw, beg, steal, and abscond all kinds of gear which they hand out to C.A. people as if it were gold which, considering the trouble gone through to get it, might as well be.

[...]

My reason for being here is because the Marine Corps sent me here, my willingness to be here stems from my belief that we are doing, if "right" is a word unusable when describing international politics and/or war, a "righter" thing by being here trying to give these people a chance and a choice, than if we were either not in it at all or if being in here enough to keep the place from being taken over without a chance to say yes or no. (I recognize that most of these people couldn't care less, as long as they are left alone, but even so, communist regimes have never been known for letting the people in general, and farmers in particular, alone). Most of us here are willing to let V.N. go in whatever direction it wishes, but I for one, and most others I believe, want a guarantee that these people have a choice not (to gather in a slogan from a different but somehow pertinent NEANDERTHALIC mentality) an echo.

Love,
Sandy

~~~~~

Marion Lee “Sandy” Kempner (April 16, 1942-November 11, 1966)

Sandy’s page on the Viet Nam War Veterans Memorial Wall Online