TOTALLY REVISED AND RE-EDITED
"Los dioses de la noche" Osvaldo Romberg (1938), original color woodcut, 1966
I was the last of the "fortunate" boys who when they reached 18 had to by law go down to what was called "the draft board" and obtain what was called "a draft card." This card had a draft number on it. On a certain future date, this draft board, under orders from a man named General Hershey in the District of Corruption, would have a drawing where the head of the local draft board (the head of my draft board was an old high-school pal of my dad's) would reach into a box and pull out numbers that they would then announce in the newspaper. If the number on your draft card was picked in one of those drawings then you were on your way to WAR whether you liked it or not. There were exceptions. One was where at the age of 18 you could get a college deferment as long as you signed up with the National Guard--to go to Guard meetings once a month and to go with your Guard unit to summer camp, blah, blah, blah. The minute, though, you graduated college, you became a member of the US Army and had to report to whatever US Army base your eventual orders (you got them from the National Guard) ordered you to for basic training and then into actual specialty training, in my case, at an artillery base since I had signed up for this plan at my hometown's National Guard armory and that unit was a highly decorated-in-WWII artillery division--a US 4th Army Division headquartered at Fort Sam Houston in San Antonio, Texas.
And as I said as I started off on this recollection journey, I was fortunate to be in this age of the military draft--and I would expect people to ask me WHY, for God's sake? and I answer because I got to experience the military first hand, which is something I would have never volunteered for. And my military experience, as brief in actuality as it was (though in all it lasted 6 years out of which I was in actual military service for about a year and a half off and on), did one thing for me: it awakened me to the fact that there are so many different societies within our collective society (the USA) and that each of these societies has its own constitution and rules and laws and bylaws and dictatorship. Like when you are inside a place of religious worship, according to the constitution of that institution's umbrella affiliation you become a subject to the rules and orders of that religious place passed down from a heirarchy that has no one above it but the God. The military is on a parallel line with that religious place of worship. In the military you are subject to laws and rules and orders against your will all sent down from a hierarchy whose head dog is the President of the United States, the Commander in Chief, which I can say is equivalent to a religion's certain God.
Once you set foot on a military base as a recruit, you are no longer a citizen of the United States. You see where I'm headed with this?
My first post and tour of duty was held at Fort Leonard Wood, Missouri. I spent 3 months at Leonard Wood as what the army referred to as "a raw recruit"--a no striper. Not even a Buck Private yet--a Recruit. And when I had to give my army service number, I had to say, "Recruit 94078556387, SIR!" As a US citizen, fuck it, I had no god-damn civil rights at all in the US Army--like screw the Bill of Rights and screw Constitutional protections. They were meaningless to the US Armed Forces. The US justice system was not available to me either in the US Army.
I met, while at Leonard Wood, two lawyers, one a graduate of Roosevelt U.-Loyola U. in Chicago and the other a graduate of the Yale Law School. I hung with these two dudes a lot. I loved 'em like brothers. Both from Chicago. Both Jewish. One from Hyde Park and the other from up in the Wilmette suburb area of the Windy City. Both sharp as tacks and both totally dedicated to rebuking the military's justice system by spending a lot of time in the post library reading military law books. Both figured they would eventually end in the military judicial branch since they were both lawyers--though I have no idea how either one of them ended up--dead or alive--nor do I want to know, like I tell people.
One Saturday morning after inspection after we were released by "the Old Man" on our own, though we had to remain on base, all of my gang dragged our soldier asses over the the PX for a steak dinner in the PX steak house--pretty damn good steaks for an army base. As we were downing our steaks and beginning to gulp down cold 3.2% alcohol Carling's Black Label beers ("Hey, Mabel! Black Label!"), the lawyer from Yale said, "You know, guys, the only rights we have in this man's Army are religious rites. Like me and Rosey. The only rights we have in the Army is the right to observe the Jewish Sabbath, which is Saturday; therefore they can't force us to participate in Saturday morning inspections due to those rights. And these bastards hate Jews, let me tell you how they hate us, but we've got them by their military dongs with this religious right." "But, how the hell can you guys get away with missing inspections?...how are you ever gonna get a Liberty pass if you don't go to inspections?" "That's part of the sacrifice--we give up military freedoms just to gain our religious right. So, no, we won't get Liberty passes probably not until we finish basic training. I don't think this action will affect our records after this shit. You'll see, we'll have to do shit work the rest of the week, too, if we decide to observe the Sabbath and miss inspections--like we'll be doing all the shit work down in the boiler room every fucking night--and we'll probably be doing permanent KP, too, but hey, it's the only right we have in the Army so like the confirmed Jewish cats we are, we're going for it--so we'll being doing the shit work five days a week, when you guys fall out for inspection Saturday morning, we'll be watching from our bunks." "Plus, you guys get Sunday off, too?" They both grinned like possums eating you know what at that question. And just as they predicted, that's exactly what happened to them, they got the Sabbath off but the rest of the week they were harassed cruelly--like being awakened in the middle of the night and told to report to the PM and then getting there and sitting and waiting maybe an hour for the PM who would then come in and say, "What the hell are you two Hebes doing in here--shouldn't you be gettin' some sleep? You're gonna be cleaning shit houses tomorrow. Now get the fuck out of here and don't bother me again." There Jewish sense of humor under harassment got them the support of the whole company and especially their buddies, of whom I was their best--a cotton-haired, Aryan-looking, curious kid from far West Texas--a place of spread-open horizons and verizons--a place of either bitter hidden hatreds or openly exposed tolerances. Strange bedfellows? Naw. Nothing strange about just human beings being human beings. I judged those guys not on their Jewishness, that was their religion to me, but rather on their imaginations and their use of wit to get them through even a torturous time, a device I have used ever since learning it from them. There is nothing your torturer hates worse than you're cracking a joke about your situation with a smile on your face. God-damn torturers hate that. It brings out the KILLING DESIRES in them. That's why the Army doesn't allow a sense of humor to mess with it necessarily having God-like dictatorial powers over its recruits.
Like I said, I have no idea what happened to those two dudes. I suppose I could find them in the White Pages, though their names are pretty common Jewish names--Rosenberg and Goldberg--and common first names, too. How many lawyers do you think there are in this country (or even in Chicago) with those names!
I have never had a desire to go down to the Vietnam Memorial, to The Wall, to see if I can find any of my army buddies's names there. I still have somewhere in my possession a list of all my pals I met in the army with their hometown addresses--I can still clearly see them all as they were then, so alive, so hopeful, so not knowing what they had gotten themselves into. They are still frozen alive at that time in my memories--what great guys--so innocent of what lay ahead of them in this place called Viet Nam--when I first went into the army it was Laos we were going over to "kill or be killed" in though the stage quickly changed to Viet Nam soon after my basic training and my orders on that bulletin board up at Fort Sill when I was mustered out of Artillery School said "Next stop Fort Ord, California" and all us cannoneers knew that Fort Ord was where they shipped you out of after assigning you to a Nam artillery unit--next stop from Fort Ord for an artilleryman was Camron Bay, Republic of South Vietnam and from there he knew he would either "kill or be killed"--that is the Biggest Order given in the military and they give it to you the first day you are at a post as a raw recruit with no rights of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. That's bullshit to the Army. You either live or you die according to the Army Bill of Rights--"You have the right to kill them because they have the right to kill you, so there ya go."
And that little brief military experience was enough to show me how separate and unequal the world of the US military--or any country's military--really is from the civilian world. How obligated today's soldiers are to the military hierarchy--currently that includes Generals from Commander in Chief G.W. Bush's New World Order Army, Admiral Mullins, General McChrystal, General Petraus (Obama's hero), and good ole Bushite Henchman, Bob Gates--sorry, General Bob Gates. Soldiers in the US Army or any army are slaves. Slobs. They are the military's lumpenproletariat! I mean, these poor young dupes are subject to be ordered to either KILL or be KILLED--and if you are KILLED, you better have KILLED a bunch of towelheads before they got you, or you are worthless to the Army--better crippled than DEAD. Of course, the DEAD have to be treated as HEROES, otherwise, the lumpenprolitariat might catch on all they are is cannon fodder, pawns under the commands of big fat always perfectly safe brass, the command, the Generals, the Colonels, the Admirals--the boys who party hearty during these invasions and occupations--just think, they're being WARLORDS, they're being military tactitioners, they're getting to practice all the moves of WAR that they learned at West Point or Annapolis or Colorado Springs--HOT DAMN are they having the time of their lives. Their lives are not in any danger.
One thousand poor slob US soldiers have now died in Afghanistan [they corrected it to 960--40 deaths happened outside Afghanistan proper], a war now entering its ninth year! Nine years and all we've accomplished is NOTHING near peace, freedom, and democracy. Hell no. That means in both of these stupid wars over 5,000 dumbass boys and girls have died now in revenge for the 2,900 not-all-Americans who died in the 9-11 attack.... And let's stop right here and analyze the situation: just how more effective was 9-11 at bringing down the USA than this current Surge we're imposing on the Afghanistan people in Marjah is in bringing down the Taliban? The Taliban as Afghanistanis had absolutely nothing to do with 9-11--and we are imposing death on all Taliban who the US Army PR releases call insurgents but who actually are Afghanistanis, a lot of them citizens of Marjah and Helmond Province. Our big pompous asshole General Stanley McChrystal had to go on Afghanistani television this morning to apologize for the US Army having wiped out 29 Afghanistani civilians who were in a small bus convoy escaping the area. Our dumbass soldier boys and girls were ordered to fire on it, so they followed orders and fired on it--SUCCESS, they killed 29 of those insurgent bastards. General Bob Gates came on after McChrystal had apologized and set us straight about the incident. "This is WAR," Bob said, "and WAR causes these kind of unfortunate things. Besides," General Bob continued, "the Taliban, those dirty bastards, are using civilian Afghanistanis as human shields so how do we really know those people weren't insurgents?...."
KILL OR BE KILLED is the Army's ultimate order. The fact that the Taliban are the civilians they are using as shields means they are using themselves as shields. The Army is puzzled how every time they start to raise the Afghan flag over the Marjah battlefield the Taliban appear out of nowhere and pull it down and take the city back over. The Taliban are Afghanistan citizens--you are invading their homes, their farms, their businesses--of course they are going to fight back. Of course since they know the country and the people and the customs and the culture they are able to appear and disappear at will--it's their fucking home town or their home province.
You see how utterly stupid and illogical the US Military is? Look at the fact that these terrorists we keep capturing and imprisoning without trials because we see them as enemy combatants are under the jurisdiction of the US Military courts.
The only way to end the War in Afghanistan, and I'm sorry I disagree with Phyllis Bennis, who obviously has no military experience, and her idealistic way to end this war--BUT, the only way to end that WAR is to just stop it. President Obama could go to Kabul and become the antiChrist for real and just say, "Look, you poor bastards, we made a bigger mistake than the Soviet Union did in thinking we could invade your homeland and occupy it and make Democrats and Republicans and Christians out of you. I want to personally apologize for my predecessor and myself for bringing this chaos to your never-really-free country. I want to help you become FREE. Not by military force but by altruism, my fellow Afghanistanis, altruism, an offer of freedom. I am withdrawing all US and NATO forces from Afghanistan immediately. I will be meeting with the puppet president my predecessor laid on you and instead of military threats we're gonna simply offer you whatever services in the way of humanitarian help and rebuilding help you may need--otherwise, we're getting the hell out of here. Your fate is now up to you guys--and don't worry, we'll pay reparations--we have to to clear our collective conscience. Case closed, Long Live Afghanistan!"
By the bye, the military general still bossing folks around in Iraq says we ain't leavin' Iraq until they stop bombing and killing each other (remember when people were saying we had turned Iraq into a Civil War Zone--same thing in Afghanistan?
Baghdad is home of our largest-ever Embassy, the Green Zone --you don't think we're giving that up, do you?--the Green Zone was once one of Saddam's gaudy palaces--no sir, we ain't giving up the Green Zone. And oh by the way, this Head Iraq General said, we ain't leavin' Iraq unless they straighten up--you see, everyday over there as long as we keep our troops and Blackwater troops there are civilians getting killed by car bombs and suicide bombers or shot by a Blackwater trooper (he may be from Chile) at a guard post--posts being so important to the US Army, like the posts that hold up that fence We the People built around certain neighborhoods in Baghdad.
HAS ANYBODY THOUGHT YET about why we are in Iraq and Afghanistan?
L Hat (www.languagehat.com) in one of his past posts said he had holy hell trouble finding a detailed map of the City of Baghdad. He was looking for a certain park and certain streets and neighborhoods he had read about in an Iraqi author's novel--a terrible novel L Hat revealed though interesting in terms of the novelist's descriptions of Baghdad itself. The only halfway detailed maps he found of Baghdad were some older German maps--but on them he couldn't find certain streets mentioned in the novel, though he did locate the park he'd been looking for. Either L Hat or one of his commenters said that since Baghdad was considered a WAR Zone maybe detailed maps of the town weren't allowed by the US Military. That made sense to me. There are probably not even any military maps of Baghdad. Maybe even Saddam Hussein didn't allow maps of Baghdad--who knows? Though surely Baghdad has been mapped thousands of times over in history. Also, surely We the People have satellites spying on Baghdad right now that can map that city down to the livingrooms and bedrooms of private homes.
I just read where moving the 30,000 troops from Iraq and the US to Afghanistan cost us 1 million dollars per soldier. You heard me right, 1 million dollars per soldier to transport these poor dopes to Afghanistan. We now have 120,000 US shuck and jive soldiers there plus over 100,000 soldiers of fortune (Blackwater, Dimecorp, contractors, etc.) for a total of 220,000 invaders in that country. Doesn't that sound chaotic to you?
5,000 US troops have now died in these two insane WARS of revenge for some unknown military genius killing 2,900 people, innocent people yes, most of them, some of them who knows--the CIA had a big database in the WTC--as did the Treasury Dept. have some old gold stored there, too--and oh yes have I mentioned who was in charge of World Trade Center security right up until the morning of 9-11 when he retired from the job--Marvin Bush--have you ever heard that name before?
But you see, folks, here's the problem I see through my empirical eyes, this country is now a MILITARY-Controlled Nation. Obama's only power as President is in his role as Commander in Chief of the US Army. The President of the United States is more powerful than Congress or We the People because as G.W. Bush figured out in his little boy head, being the Commander in Chief of the US Army means he has these sons of bitches under his command and our military leaders being loyal to him who provides them with wars to fulfill their WARRIOR dreams of playing a game of WAR Chess using human beings for the pieces.
Male human monkeys have an instinct for becoming WARRIORS and proving themselves in WAR. I think it's an unquenchable instinct--unless you are the beaten--beaten so far down that you find yourself in slavery--THEN and seemingly only then do our instinct for FREEDOM and JUSTICE take over--so only through a REVOLUTION will We the People ever pull ourselves out of this mess--and we can because what Marx forgot in his faulty dialetical materialism approach to change was human invention. Human invention when used for the good of mankind can cause a REVOLUTION in this country, emphasis on the evolution part of the word.
One way to start would be for our government to confiscate all the holdings of Toyota America--and to maybe put old Brother Toyota, Jr., in a fucking jail cell where he and the ex-Presidents of Chrysler and General Motors belong....
But of course I don't see any change on the horizon. WAR seems to be inevitable. PEACE seems to be impossible. So what do you do?
I'm writing a detective novel--a Dick Stump Mystery--you can't stump Dick Stump. I'm losing myself in my inner self's playpen, that self that is so crammed with things to write about. I'm getting some of my old art out of hiding and digging it again--like Osvaldo Romberg's Los dioses de la noche that leads off this post. Look at those gods. They are gods of WAR nights. There is no light at the end of the tunnel in Osvaldo's view of WAR. (Osvaldo is an Argentine-born now American artist--who is still with us. See www.osvaldoromberg.com/)
I'm going to lose myself among the stars over some beers and a steak down at my fav Irish pub.
Gártha agus síocháin ar domhan
for The Daily Growler
There Is Big Joy Tonight in New York City at the Policeman's Ball
The mad bombing al-Queda-trained Afghanistan native from Denver, Colorado, has amazingly confessed his intent of blowing up the New York City subway system. The cops and the FBI and the CIA are patting themselves on the back with all of 'em saying how devastating this would have been had this twentyish al-Quedan managed to have pulled off his plot. Seems he's pissed at the way the US Army is killing Afghanistan civilians (estimates are that 100,000 Afghanistan civilians have been killed in this futile war since it began in 2001). Of course, they never found any explosives on the dude or at his Denver home. Nor did they find any explosives at his father's house or the home of the al-Queda Iman from Queens nor at the homes of his two high school friends also accused of being al-Quedan enemy combatants along with the father and the evil Iman. I mean these people have lived here all this time and suddenly now they want to blow up the NY City subway system--an impossible feat--more than likely the guy confessed under an extreme urging for his to do so by his accusers.
By the way, as an aside, a judge here in NYC acquitted the 3 cops who a male victim claimed sodomized him with a billy club in a late-night subway arrest. The message sent to We the People of New York City: the cops now have the right to jam a billy club up your ass while arresting you. Who knows, you could be an al-Queda agent.
So this al-Quedan from Denver confessed to everything. They say he made a deal with the Feds and the local cops--in exchange for reduced waterboarding torture he's going to squeal on all his al-Queda cell members here in the USA. Looks like he's gonna rat on his own father.
Oh the fun we New York Citians have while al-Quedan plot after plot is foiled by our brilliant CIA and FBI--and, by the way, a detailed map of New York City--even a map of the complete subway system--is readily available to anyone who needs one, al-Quedan or White Separatist.
In the meantime, devastation is still a comin' the Feds and the local cops keep saying to keep all of us scared shitless--they pompously with very straight-faces tell us to expect more al-Queda attacks any day now. I mean come on, folks, one of them's going to get through and actually set off a fucking bomb one day the way these bastards blab all the details of their mighty investigative and preventive powers. The test bombing will probably happen right under my apartment building which sits directly over one of the largest subway stations on the whole system.
I'm'a scared...MOMMY! MOMMY!
for The Daily Growler