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06 April 2009

Bush's game of Hide-the-Coffins / please, Sir, may we see what your wars cost? / Dover AFB & the flag-draped coffins (continued)

Abbas said...
seeing this occur in canada is so commonplace with coffins coming back from afghanistan on a near monthly basis that i never thought that such a ban was in place in the US. it makes more sense now why canadians are much more sensitive and think twice about sending troops abroad than the US do.
Monday, 06 April, 2009
==========================
hey hey abbas --
Try to get a mental image of me when I think about this business of forbidding the press from witnessing our neighbors' sons and daughters come home in coffins.
Maybe your image has me resembling Donald Duck going into one of his hissy-fits, but under the flying feathers, the anger and fury could not be more authentic.
It's one reason I ran this story straight, and didn't start with my usual lengthy Rant. Vleeptron is an Adult-Themed blog, but the words I would have used to describe this White House game of Hide-The-Coffins are Beyond Adult.
I was a newspaper journalist, and I'm a wartime Army vet. The Dover Blackout -- well, what else is it but
1. Kill our Soldiers
2. Don't Let the Citizens See our Dead Soldiers
At the top of the Dover post was a link to Russ Kick's Memory Hole website. Kick fought the Dover Blackout in the federal courts, charging that denying the American people the right to see military-taken photos of these ceremonies violated the Freedom of Information Act.
After years of litigation, one day, completely by surprise, he got a CD in the mail from the US Air Force: hundreds of photographs of the flag-draped coffins and the military rituals of their arrival. The Air Force continues to send Kick updated photographs of the ceremonies.
That's what you'll see if you click on his website.
The Pentagon knew he was eventually going to win his lawsuit, so they rolled over.
Even in Scoundrel Times, the USA has laws and an independent judiciary that demands their enforcement. Kick won the right to let Americans see the cost of their wars during the Bush 2 Administration.
Every war begins with a Big Parade and a Marching Band and thousands of waving flags. The soldiers marching off to war are in brand-new boots and uniforms, they're all young and fresh and clean and bright and handsome.
As Mamet's movie "Wag the Dog" put it: "It's a Pageant."
Flag-draped coffins coming home are the far end of every war. This is what our Rogue-in-Chief, our Scoundrel Commander, the Liar atop the Chain of Command, didn't want Americans to see. (He also never attended a single funeral of an American member of the military who was killed in Iraq or Afghanistan.)
My gratitude and admiration to Obama on this one war-related thing: He now permits Americans, through their agents in the free press, to see What We Have Done. What the coffins look like is no longer treated as Top Secret / Military Eyes Only, locked and hidden behind fences and armed guards.
My war sent back 58,000 flag-draped coffins and body bags. I knew some of them, they were my high school buddies, and guys I knew in the Army.
Canada, under the leadership of one of my great heroes, Pierre Elliott Trudeau, sat out the Vietnam War, and did not send Canadian military forces to assist the U.S. war effort. (Canada did send its military to the ferocious U.N. police action we call the Korean War today.)
Trudeau also used a loophole in the US-Canada extradition treaty to give sanctuary to Americans who fled to Canada to avoid being drafted/conscripted. Today -- except for some lingering funny accents -- they're Canadian citizens indistinguishable from your next-door neighbor.
All they had to do was flee the land of their birth.
I shouldn't have to remind any Canadian of this, but it takes Big Guts for a Canadian PM to give the finger to The Dangerous Giant Crazy Violent Rich Drunk south of the border.
Canada chose not to send troops to participate in the USA's whack, bogus invasion of Iraq. Canadian troops have been sent into harm's way in Afghanistan. As of today, here are the uniform fatalities:
............CANADA....USA
............=============
.......IRAQ..---.....4266
AFGHANISTAN .116......674
............=============.....====
.............116..+..4940..=..5056
As sure as I know the Sun will rise tomorrow, I know some Canadian conservatives would have Canadians believe "116 isn't a lot, this isn't costing Canada much loss or trouble at all. Soldier on, lads!"
All through the ghastly Iraq War, U.S. conservatives -- the Fox-ic crowd -- have been saying, "This isn't like Vietnam at all. Look how few military deaths we've lost so far. This is a bargain. Surge on! We're winning! Victory's just around the corner!"
My least favorite bumper sticker about this issue:
FREEDOM ISN'T FREE
(i.e., it costs the young lives of our poor and disenfranchised neighbors. As the economy tanks, military recruitment -- the only guaranteed job for life, however short -- will reap the benefits.)
A very interesting family exercised their choice to allow the press to cover the return of Staff Sgt. Phillip Myers to Dover Air Force Base. The new policy gave them the right to exclude the press. They chose to bring their family member home in full view of their neighbors.
End American Combat Operations
in Iraq and Afghanistan Now
Stop the Wars
Bring our Women
and Men
in Uniform
Home Safe Now
If Obama did this, I would hope Canada's leadership would do the same.
It is long past time to Get Real: Bullets, Bombs, White Phosphorous, Predator Drones, Up-Armored Humvees, Depleted Uranium Ordinance, Cruise Missiles, Torture Prisons, B-1 Bombers cannot make Asians behave the way proper citizens of Manitoba and Indiana wish they would behave. Decades ago the Soviet Union learned this. Now we're learning our lesson -- the lesson we were supposed to have remembered from Vietnam.
~ ~ ~
Folk Music Addendum
(the Peoples' History)
If you are addicted -- as you should be -- to the Civilized Marvel of CBC Radio, you may from time to time hear songs and interviews with the Canadian folksinger Jesse Winchester. His accent is a little odd; it's a Mississippi drawl. He has been in Canada, first as a conscription fugitive, eventually as a citizen of Canada, since 1967. On pain of arrest and criminal prosecution, he can never set foot in the United States again, he can never again visit the Mississippi of his birth.
(There being no draft in the USA anymore, US "volunteer" military who flee to find sanctuary in Canada -- dozens, scores, nobody has a really accurate count -- have no legal sanctuary from the Canadian government. If the Mounties find them, they send them back to the USA for court martial on desertion charges.)
On an album from long ago, Jesse Winchester sang a traditional African-American song from the 1940s. But he added some new verses of his own.
Tell Me Why You Like Roosevelt
Tell me why you like Roosevelt, poor man's friend
That's why I like Roosevelt, poor man's friend
That's why I like Roosevelt, poor man's friend
Good God almighty, he's the poor man's friend
Cause in the year of nineteen and thirty-two
We had no idea just what we would do
All our finances had flowed away
Till my dad got a job with the WPA
That's why I like Roosevelt, poor man's friend
That's why I like Roosevelt, poor man's friend
That's why I like Roosevelt, poor man's friend
Good God almighty that's the poor man's friend
Good God almighty that's the poor man's friend
Tell me why you like Lester B
Tell me why you like Lester B
Tell me why you like Lester B
Good God almighty that's the poor man's friend
Good God almighty that's the poor man's friend
Cause in the year of nineteen and sixty-seven
I was a somewhat younger man
The call came to bloody glory came
And I would not raise my hand
Cause I'm baptized by water
So I'll pass on the one by fire
If you want to fight
Go on and fight if that be your desire
That's why I like Pierre Trudeau
That's why I like Pierre Trudeau
That's why I like Pierre Trudeau
Good God almighty that's the poor man's friend
Good God almighty that's the poor man's friend
© 1974 Jesse Winchester
From the LP "Learn To Love It"

1 comment:

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