MARCHING FOR THE CAUSE? NOT EXACTLY. – Marilyn Armstrong

So the question was:

“If your day-to-day responsibilities were taken care of and you could throw yourself completely behind a cause, what would it be?”

You mean other than loathing our current president? The answer is I wouldn’t. I can and do write about it, the evil minions in our capital. When I have a spare $5, I try to make some kind of minimal contribution. Otherwise, in the immortal words of Phil Ochs, “I ain’t marchin’ anymore.”

I marched against war and for peace.

I marched for civil rights.

I campaigned for universal health care and free care for anyone who needs it.

I marched against evil and for justice all my life and now, it’s time for a younger generation with better feet and hips to do the marching. I’m not sure, after all that marching whether or not I even accomplished anything … other than to make denim a fashion fabric. Now, with my spine a mangled wreck of arthritis and just plain falling-apartness, my marching days are done.

So far, at least, the world spins and night follows day whether or not I can get my feet moving.

If you are marching, good luck. Take a few sandwiches and something to drink. And wear comfortable shoes. You’ll be glad you did.

THE WORLD WAR ONE CHRISTMAS TRUCE – 1914 – Marilyn Armstrong

The Christmas truce (German: Waffenstillstand; French: Trêve de Noël) was a series of widespread but unofficial ceasefires along the Western Front during the Christmas season of 1914. During the days leading to Christmas day, German and British soldiers left their trenches to exchange greetings. To talk man-to-man, exchange personal information, share food and drink.

From The Illustrated London News of January 9, 1915: "British and German Soldiers Arm-in-Arm Exchanging Headgear: A Christmas Truce between Opposing Trenches"

From The Illustrated London News of January 9, 1915: “British and German Soldiers Arm-in-Arm Exchanging Headgear: A Christmas Truce between Opposing Trenches”

World War I had been raging for only four months. Soldiers on both sides were trapped in trenches and extremely wary of sniper fire. On battlefields mired in mud, frozen with snow and ice, soldiers emerged from their holes in a rare, spontaneous outbreak of peace.

Both sides — most notably in the southern portion of the Ypres Salient — combatants briefly laid down their weapons and met in No Man’s Land.

On Christmas Eve and Christmas Day, they mingled. Exchanged food and souvenirs. There were joint burial ceremonies and prisoner swaps. Several meetings ended in carol-singing.

The high command on both sides issued warnings to all soldiers that such fraternization would make participating soldiers subject to charges of treason. Not surprisingly, there were far fewer spontaneous truces the following year and virtually none by 1916.

A sad commentary on human “civilization” when peace, however temporary, is called treason.

TRUMP STILL IN OBAMA’S SHADOW AFTER ISIS HEAD KILLED – THE SHINBONE STAR

President Barack Obama got Osama bin Laden, the meanest of the mean.

Oval Office Occupant The Donald got Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi.

WHO?

Oh, yeah, head of the Islamic State (ISIS), “the world’s No. 1 terrorist leader,” according to Donald.

Donald, is under threat of impeachment for abuse of power by pressuring Ukraine to investigate his domestic political rivals. He’s sooo grasping at any straw to deflect.

Ever the “showman,” Don described in gory detail Abu’s ending, in a tunnel along with his family, where Abu apparently detonated a suicide vest rather than surrender.

“Osama bin Laden was very big, but Osama bin Laden became big with the World Trade Center (bombing),” Trump said, stating this kill by the U.S. Special Forces was the biggest there is. “This is a man who built a whole, as he would like to call it a country – a caliphate and was trying to do it again.”

Poor Donnie was upstaged in the dreaded media last night when the “fake news” broadcast the event.

The White House released a photograph of Trump surrounded by top advisers on Saturday in the Situation Room where he monitored the raid on al-Baghdadi’s hide-out in Syria — much like the famed image of President Barack Obama watching the raid that killed Osama bin Laden in 2011. An obviously envious Trump even seemed to suggest that killing al-Baghdadi was a bigger deal than killing Bin Laden.

Nowhere close Delusional Don. Even though he is/was a mean mother, he is/was no where as infamous as bin Laden. Don, you got a guppie.

Abu, 48, the son of an Iraqi sheepherder, was hiding deep inside a part of northwestern Syria controlled by archrival al Qaeda groups according to the Times. Hiding among your enemies. Brilliant.

Or, was he there to broker an alliance? Time will tell.

Abu al-Baghdadi has been incorrectly reported killed before, and American military officials were concerned that Trump, who posted a cryptic message on Twitter on Saturday night teasing his Sunday announcement, was so eager to announce the development that he was getting ahead of the forensics, wrote the New York Times.

“A Defense Department official said before The Donald’s announcement that there was a strong belief — “near certainty” — that al-Baghdadi was dead, but that a full DNA analysis was not complete,” wrote the Times.

Trump claimed that “American troops did “an on-site test” of DNA to confirm Mr. al-Baghdadi’s identity and that they brought back “body parts” when leaving the scene.

“The official said that with any other president, the Pentagon would wait for absolute certainty before announcing victory,” continued the story.

During his morning appearance, Trump put himself in the center of the action, describing himself as personally hunting al-Baghdadi since the early days of his administration. The only thing Delusional Donnie has hunted is glory and profits from his numerous visits to his own estates to play golf and bilk taxpayers.

He crowed that as he watched the action on Saturday with Mike Pence and others in the Situation Room (Not the CNN one with Wolf Blitzer.) it was “like watching a movie.” Wonder if he got to see all the blood and gore from the explosion?

Even more astounding, Trump trundled along Sen. Lindsey Graham, (R -S.C.), usually a strong ally who has been the most outspoken critic of his Syria decision, to join him for the speech on Sunday morning. Then, amazingly he sent cock sock Graham to brief reporters from the lectern in the White House briefing room. an unusual spectacle for a lawmaker, to say the least.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D – Ca.) called on the White House, to brief lawmakers about the raid, pointing out the Trump had informed the Russians of the military operation before telling congressional leadership.

Well, he had to tell his Master, Vlad “Puty” Putin first Nancy. Besides, you’re a woman AND a Democrat and he is apparently employed by Russia.

U.S. Oval Office Occupants typically follow the protocol of contacting congressional leaders, regardless of their political party, when a high-level military operation is conducted. As we know, nothing is typical about Trump except his lying and love for Russia.

“The House must be briefed on this raid, which the Russians but not top congressional leadership were notified of in advance, and on the administration’s overall strategy in the region,” Pelosi said.

Trump told reporters at the lengthy news conference that he did not inform the House speaker of the raid because he “wanted to make sure this kept secret.” In other words, we can trust a liar, but not a woman to keep a secret, eh Donald?

Asked whether he had informed Pelosi, Trump replied, “No, I didn’t. I didn’t do that. I wanted to make sure this kept secret. I don’t want to have men lost, and women. I don’t want to have people lost.”

Trump continued, that he was “going to notify [congressional leaders] last night, but we decided not to do that because Washington leaks like I’ve never seen before.”

No amount of grandstanding attempted deflections or grandiose self-congratulatory rallies will change the fact that The Donald, a narcissistic lying crook, is facing impeachment.

Abu al-Baghdadi may be gone, but there are others who will soon fill the void and the blood bath in Syria will continue as American troops flee.

As Pelosi so succinctly told Trump last week, as she stood to leave after he called her “a third-grade politician,” “Why (with you) do “all roads lead to Putin”?

Donald still hasn’t come up with an answer.

WHAT’S THAT WORD? – Marilyn Armstrong

Words That Sound Right

Although this is subjective, some words sound like the thing they describe. Personal favorites are:

Puffin, Bulbous, Fidget, Prickly, Twitch, Bubbly.  
Words Which DON’T Sound Like Their Meaning
Medical terminology is designed to take the sting — and sometimes the responsibility — out of troubling problems. PTSD – Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder is the latest entry in trying to find a way around admitting that war is bad for those who fight in them — and other living things.
The Thousand Yard Stare

It started during the Civil War when it was noticed by a lot of people that many former soldiers were not the people they used to be. They were scary or scared. They had delusions. They thought they were being followed or that the war had found them … again.

The first army in history to determine in which mental collapse was considered a direct consequence of the stress of war and was first regarded as a legitimate medical condition was the Russian Army of 1905. The Russians’ major contribution was their recognition of the principle of proximity, or forward treatment.

In actuality, fewer than 20% were able to return to the front.

The brutalities of WWI produced large numbers of the psychologically wounded. This time, they began by attributing the high psychiatric casualties to the new weapons of war; specifically, large artillery. It was believed the impact of the shells produced a concussion that disrupted the physiology of the brain; thus the term “shell shock” came into fashion.

Another diagnosis was neurasthenia: “The mental troubles are many and marked; on the emotional side, there is sadness, weariness, and pessimism; repugnance to effort, abnormal irritability; defective control of temper, tendency to weep on slight provocation; timidity (also: rage, violence, insomnia).On the intellectual side, lessened power of attention, defective memory and will power….” (1)

At least the early descriptors name the cause — war or battle. Artillery. But those who make war and send others to fight it don’t like taking the blame — or the responsibility  — for dealing with the outcome. Since no one is planning to end wars, they try to make its repercussions less threatening by never mentioning battle in any symptom relating to it.

Thus if you remove the word “war” from the illness, there’s no more war.

By the end of World War I, the United States had hundreds of psychiatrists overseas who were beginning to realize that psychiatric casualties were not suffering from “shell shock.” … Unfortunately, they continued to believe this collapse came about primarily in men who were weak in character.

During WWI, almost 2,000,000 men were sent overseas to fight in Europe. Deaths were put at 116,516, while 204,000 were wounded. During the same period, 159,000 soldiers were out of action for psychiatric problems, with 70,000 permanently discharged. (2)

Then came World War II. Everyone knows the story of General Patton slapping the soldier in the hospital and treating him as a coward. Generals cannot afford to believe that war is bad for soldiers, that it isn’t just a matter of mind over matter. Although Patton is certainly the most famous for expressing his feelings on the matter, I doubt he was unique in his opinions. He was just more outspoken than most.

It became clear it was not just the “weak” who broke down. This is reflected in the subtle change in terminology that took place near the end of World War II when “combat neurosis” began to give way to the term “combat exhaustion.”Author Paul Fussell says that term, as well as the expression “battle fatigue,” suggests “a little rest would be enough to restore to useful duty a soldier who would be more honestly designated as insane.” (3)

Gabriel writes in “No More Heroes,” a study of madness and psychiatry in war, that contrary to what (we see) in the movies and television, in the military, it is not only the weak and cowardly who break down in battle. Everyone is subject to breaking down in combat.”When all is said and done, all normal men are at risk in war.” (4)

Vietnam and subsequent wars have kept troops permanently under siege while the medical community has sanitized symptoms. PTSD lacks any obvious link to war and battle. It doesn’t change the problem and has not resulted in better treatment in Veteran’s Hospitals. Today’s ploy is to not even acknowledge that any such problem exists and deny treatment by ascribing soldiers’ symptoms to “something else.” Anything else. Anything else to avoid the military’s accepting responsibility to care for its own victims.

The cost of war exceeds our ability to cope with its fallout.

Apparently, no one considers not sending more soldiers into combat might be the better — best — solution.

Funny about that.

HUMAN ACHIEVEMENT? – Marilyn Armstrong

Fandango’s Provocative Question #44

From Fandango:

“You’re probably familiar with this quote from philosopher, essayist, poet, and novelist, George Santayana, “Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.“ In a 1948 speech to the House of Commons, Winston Churchill changed the quote slightly when he said, “Those who fail to learn from history are condemned to repeat it.“

Or my favorite version of this particular saying:

“If you don’t know history, then you don’t know anything. You are a leaf that doesn’t know it is part of a tree. ” ― Michael Crichton

So, speaking about what you remember about the past or have learned from history, how would you answer this question:”

Achievement? By the human race?

Right now, I’m having a lot of trouble crediting the human species with any significant event. I suppose it depends on what you think is significant. Would it be something that makes a life for people better? Or for a specific part of the human species better? Even if that “advancement” decimates or destroys other important aspects of the world in which we live? Like, for example, when we learned to plow and created the Sahara desert? And eventually killed ever last living mastodon? Was that an improvement?

Or how about when we broke the sod in the west and created the Dust Bowl? You know all those westerns where the sodbusters are the Good Guys and the ranchers are the Bad Guys? You know — the ranchers were right. We destroyed the prairies.

How about the invention of the government? After the Black Plague, the central government that was created produced giant grain silos and thus managed to feed the starving people after the plague wiped out the serfs — aka, farmers.

So the central government enabled people to rebuild after the worst (known) 100 years of human life or at least the worst time we still know about. But the deep plowing of the soil essentially was the beginning of what we are now experiencing: the ending of the world as we know it.

Will we take from that lesson that few have understood and somehow avoid total annihilation? Shall we yet come up with a world in which we can all live? Not just the human race, but all creatures?

Was the world better when we foraged for food and hunted our meat? I suspect it was. Were humankind’s invention of the railroad, automobile, and the airplane an improvement or was it the beginning of our end?

Do I live with any substantial hope that we will find a way out of this disaster we are in and rebuild a world in which we can live at peace as a part of nature and not its murderer?

I don’t know. Do you know?

We aren’t going to live long enough to see the end result of this madness and I’m not sorry about that. I love this world with its birds and bunnies and squirrels and eagles. With its tigers and lions and the elephants that crush the crops — but they were here before me and they have the right to live, even when it makes our lives more complicated.

Doesn’t every living thing deserve the right to survive? And our grandchildren — do they deserve the right to survive too?

We came out of our caves as killers and so we have remained.

And here’s my answer:

The most significant thing we ever invented were weapons. Significant isn’t, after all, the same as “good.” Or positive. 

IS THIS THE END OF DAYS? – Marilyn Armstrong

I know, because I keep reading about it, how “end of days” is supposed to work. This is when the good guys (not me or mine) will go wafting upward to heaven whilst the unshriven and/or non-religious, disbelievers, and the many who believe in “the wrong gods” are left behind in a world of Bad People. Or, at least not good enough to be drawn into heaven.

Eschatology is a part of theology concerned with the final events of history or the ultimate destiny of humanity. This concept is commonly referred to as the “end of the world” or “end times.” In Judaism, the end times are usually called the “end of days” (aḥarit ha – yamim, אחרית הימים).

If ever we’ve faced a genuine “end of days” for all of humankind — rather than for a specific group of people at who is one of the many current objects of local (but highly effective) genocide, it’s right now. This oncoming “change of climate” is no local holocaust on some “other” continent. This is the one that is going to hit everyone, though not everyone at the same time.

And there will be no gentle ascension into heaven for the praiseworthy and most righteous. To put it in musical terms, one more Tom Lehrer song for those who like a little humor with the “end of the world.”

Now, of course, we don’t expect to do it in one big flash-bang of bombs, though given one thing and another, that’s not entirely out of the picture … but this is still a good summary number.

Me being me, I never expected to go wafting up to heaven but I also didn’t think I would hit my 70s and wonder if the world was going to survive through my granddaughter’s midlife crisis.

GOOD TIMES, HARD TIMES, AMERICAN PROPAGANDA AND THE PAST – Marilyn Armstrong

I never thought America was the international good guy. Read far too much actual — not school — history for that. What I did think is that we had a fundamental sense of right and wrong and that when nip came to tuck, we’d do the right thing … and right had nothing to do with the Soviet Union, either. Remember, that Berlin wall came down when I was pretty young. I really thought — for a while until, like most illusions, it was shattered by reality — that the old U.S.S.R. might, without their antique soviet rulers, be free enough to make good choices.

I remember a world where people were more polite to each other and where however individually corrupt our pols were, they still believed in “the good of the country” above and beyond their individual agendas. That belief has been falling apart with the passing years. I really thought at least some of them cared. I wish I’d been right about that. We could use some caring.

This horror in which we live right now? It didn’t start with Trump. It started when we decided to create a nation, we would allow slavery and it was okay to slaughter the Natives. We sold our collective souls to the devil before we even had a constitution or anything resembling a country. Oh, we had a nicely written constitution and some idealistic people who did some good, sometimes, when they were allowed.

Overall? We have always owed our souls to whoever had the most money because that was what the slavery deal was about — letting the south keep slaves so they could hold on to their plantation and not (heaven forbid) have to actually work.

Standard Oil went half a dozen rounds with Theodore Roosevelt and theoretically, Rockefeller lost over and over in court, but really, he lost nothing. He literally laughed at the court rulings and nothing changed. J.P. Morgan had a good laugh too as TR tried to break up his ownership of the railroads and many other corporations.

Today’s Exxon is Standard Oil with a cooler name. It is bigger, uglier, and more ruthless than ever. Huge corporations never lose, not today or ever. Money is power.

I don’t remember that nearly perfect world, nor does Garry. Maybe only white middle-class people remember it. The rest of us were under no illusions about where we stood in the great scheme of things.

I do remember a world where there was more personal communication between people. There was also more opportunity to make progress in the game of life. Those opportunities have largely disappeared. The big corporations have bought out, sold off, or absorbed most (almost all) of the smaller organizations which had been the stepping stones for individuals trying to climb the ladder.

Today, we are feudal. If we are born a serf, we will die a serf.

There is an assumption by our kids including my granddaughter that we remember a perfect world.

We don’t. There’s a lot of assuming going on. Some old people want to remember that world. Maybe they lived in one of the white suburbs and never had to bump into a dark-skinned person and treat him or her as an equal.

Then again, maybe age has rosied their memories so now they remember what they wish it had been.

Yup. Lots of assuming going on.

I miss people being polite and talking — even arguing — together. I never believed our propaganda, probably because my mother and father didn’t believe it either. There’s a lot of youngsters out there who are so deeply ignorant they think the boomer generation destroyed the world. We did everything. Built the corporations, fought all the wars — even the ones that occurred before we were born.

All of the problems if this world were created by my generation. And probably yours, too.

The level of ignorance and stupidity going around the world is breathtaking. I think I’ve gotten past being shocked. Now, it’s closer to disgust.

War is never out of style. There has always been a war going on as long as I can remember, which goes back to Korea. I remember listening to the news of the war on the radio with my mother. I remember her talking about it, wondering why in the world we were there in the first place? What did we think we were going to accomplish? I must have been four or five, but I understood. How? Maybe it’s not my first life.

We destabilized Asia. That’s what we did. We are still trying to deal with the consequences. Mom was ahead of her time.

Then, later, I was in my mid-twenties. It was during Vietnam. There were protests and I was involved in some. Not most. I had a little one and a fulltime job, so there were time limitations.  I had friends, a husband, dogs, cats, and a house where sometimes it seemed the immediate nation congregated every evening. A lively social life.

I pointed out to my mother (like I had just discovered this, silly child) if we weren’t sending all that money to make war in Vietnam, there would be money to do things here, at home. Maybe we could do something about healthcare.

My husband and I went effectively bankrupt following my spine surgery and we had insurance. It didn’t cover everything and my surgery — and the four months in the hospital which followed — was wildly expensive. I remember asking Jeff if we didn’t pay them, would they take me upstairs and re-break my back? Because we couldn’t pay. We were going to have to pay them off, month by month for years to come.

Then Owen was born with two club feet. It was the final blow. Wiped out. We never rebuilt our finances. Even way back in the 1960s and ’70s, my issue was healthcare because everyone thought their work insurance was plenty. They hadn’t had a major medical crisis. They would learn.

But, I digress.

My mother raised an eyebrow and looked at me. She said:

Thus spoke my mother. Because cynicism isn’t always wrong.

I was taken aback. I thought she was being too cynical. But you know? She was right.

Wars end and the war-making money vanishes. Never does it go toward healthcare or education. It just disappears as if it never existed and no one seems to question it.

Just once more, I’d like to hear our politicians across party lines look for ways to do what’s best for the country and the people they serve.

TODAY IS THE 75TH ANNIVERSARY OF D-DAY – Marilyn Armstrong

You sure wouldn’t know it by what’s on television.

Not a single movie, documentary or anything. We watched “Oh, What a Lovely War” with a chaser of “The Americanization of Emily.” Garry scoured the listings, but no channel is showing anything related to D-Day.

Not like there aren’t plenty of movies and documentaries from which to choose. So, have we forgotten? Call me weird, but I think this is a day to remember. Always.

Here I am, cynical, skeptical and nobody’s flag-waver reminding everyone that this day was important. It was the beginning of the final stage of the most devastating war in remembered history.


The summary of loss of life, 1937-1945:

    • Military deaths: More than 16,000,000
    • Civilian deaths: More than 45,000,000
    • Total deaths for the war years 1937-1945: More than 61,000,000

I don’t think we should be allowed to forget so quickly, do you?

European border before the first World War

Europe just after WW 2

Europe-circa 1970

Because when we forget, when the lessons we learned are lost. We stand in imminent danger of repeating history. I, for one, think that’s a bad idea. Oh, wait … we ARE in the middle of repeating history.

Lest we forget … this is how it all began. With a world just like the one in which we are living. Today. With leaders who think war is a fine idea.

WAR GAMES – A REBLOG BY JUDY DYKSTRA-BROWN

lifelessons - a blog by Judy Dykstra-Brown

photo with permission by Hasan Almasi on Unsplash

War Games

I’m not an island hopper, even in time of war.
Didn’t your mother tell you that’s what a basement’s for?
Wherever you may wander, wherever you may roam,
the best place to dodge missiles is right there in your home.

So reinforce your bunkers, store up delicious rations
so you can withstand war games of the leaders of our nations.
Naughty little spoiled boys who cannot learn to share
will not heed entreaties of those of us who care.

Even our democracy is ruled by a throne.
He gnaws away at joints of beef and throws us all a bone.
With no other agenda than playing at his game,
he does not know the difference between infamy and fame.

So build up your defenses. Reinforce your door,
for he and his rich cronies would profit from a war.
And all…

View original post 56 more words

COMPROMISE: THE MISSING OPTION – Marilyn Armstrong

Weekly Word Prompt: Compromise

Talk about things that have gone missing from the American — and for that matter, international — scene.

Compromise. The ability for both sides to give a little and get a little until finally, they reach a satisfactory mid-point and everyone is happy with the result. Or, at least, comfortable with the result. Or — sufficiently comfortable to not feel an overwhelming need to ruin the lives of hundreds of thousands of people to make a political point.

The parallels of what’s going on in the world today, with America functioning as “the leader of the pack,” with what was happening during the 1930s which led to the bloodbath of World War 2 are absolutely terrifying. Do we not remember how it went last time?

Are we so ignorant of even the most recent history to not recognize we are making the same mistakes — again. This time, though, instead of fighting the good fight, America is leading the bad fight. We are not the good guys this time around. Not even close.

Protesters rally in Federal Plaza against the partial government shutdown, Thursday afternoon, Jan. 10, 2019. | Ashlee Rezin/Sun-Times

I was sure we’d have come to our collective senses by now, but far from it. Because since our “leader” is such vicious, nationalist, self-centered, racist that he has given permission to the rest of the world to be the assholes they really want to be.

Strip away the manners and the traditions of hospitality and simple good manners? Underneath there is a vicious mean-spirited jerk waiting to come out and destroy his world.

What’s the answer? Is there an answer?

Another alternative to a failure to compromise — not our best choice, maybe?

I have no idea. I don’t think another world war is going to improve life, but that sure looks like where we are heading. That or a massive international depression that will take years from which to recover.

You can take your pick of the option you personally favor, but for myself, I favor photographing the birds at play and at the feeder.

Because anything else just depresses me.

IN SEARCH OF PEACE ON EARTH – Rich Paschall

The Same Auld Lang Syne, by Rich Paschall

Another year has begun and we can see it is indeed the same as days gone by.  If “old acquaintance be forgot” as one year passes into another, old hatred, old disputes, old border wars, old and new religious battles carry on as if they will forever be remembered. Are these disagreements worth the killing of men, women and children standing on the other side?

Should auld acquaintance be forgot, 
and never brought to mind? 
Should auld acquaintance be forgot, 
and auld lang syne?

In our neighborhood, just as in many around the world, we conclude our year wishing “Peace on Earth, Good Will Toward Men.”  It is on our greeting cards and in our songs.  It appears in Christmas stories and is heard from pulpits and lecterns around the world. The invocations I used to read on Christmas Day, to those assembled at noon mass at a nearby church, included a call for world leaders to truly seek world peace.  For this intention, I would say to the congregation, “We pray to the Lord.”  They responded to my prayer by rote, since we have the same response to all our intentions, “Lord hear our prayer.”

The Lord may hear our prayer but I think He surely means for us to work at resolving the conflicts that plague the world.  I am not convinced many really heard the intention or remembered it by the time they hit the pavement an hour later.  Do we want a new beginning or will things continue in the same direction?  Our history for this sort of thing suggests the answer.

Sometimes our world leaders do indeed seem to be making strides for peace, but these strides often suffer reversals when conflicts begin anew as they predictably do.  While Presidents, prime ministers and even royalty call for peace, how many are actually plotting retaliations and wars behind the scenes?  In fact, we would all think our leaders were careless and irresponsible if they were not prepared to take up old battles at a moments notice, or begin new ones if need be.

Even the current Pope, revered for his concerns for the poor, has condemned violent groups and urged the world not to be indifferent to the suffering they have caused.  If we are not to be indifferent, than what are we to do?  Is it a call for those facing conflict to continue the fight?  Is it a call for outsiders to join in?

There are no easy answers to what is left of ISIS, the Taliban, the war lords and terrorist groups. If there had been, I wish we would have employed them by now.  How about closer to home?  What of the racial profiling, police brutality, gun violence and large prison populations?  What of the street gangs and drug cartels?  What of organized crime and the violence they are willing to commit?  How many marches in the street will it take to rid us of the same old acquaintances we know through these oft-repeated scenes?  Will marches alone bring peace to our homeland?

The sad truth of starting each year with a call for peace on earth is we end each year needing to renew the call again.  Perhaps it would be best if old acquaintances could be forgotten, so we could start with a new and clean slate. There are, however, those who can not let go of the hate.  They perpetuate the cultural divide.  They do not wish to give up the fight or extend a hand across the border or the battlefield.  Is this what we were taught?  Did we say “Peace on Earth” when we really meant “Don’t let our enemies get any peace?”  What messages are we really sending when we learn that the greeting card verses are more fiction than fact?

“Should old acquaintance be forgot and never be brought to mind?” Perhaps. And perhaps we need to start believing in the simple verses of seasonal songs and bring peace on earth. The answers to our problems are actually there in many of those simple holiday songs.  They have always been there.  It is contained in a four letter word we are afraid to use, especially when it comes to those we perceive as our enemies. Do you know that word?  Love, as in Love Thy Neighbor As Thyself. They know on the streets we can not continue to live with the past wrongs, some streets anyway.

Auld Lang Syne, or “old long since” is a Scottish poem by Robert Burns.  It was subsequently set to traditional folk music.  The modern question for us is, “Will we ever ‘take a cup o’ kindness yet, for auld lang syne’?”

And there’s a hand my trusty friend! 
And give me a hand o’ thine! 
And we’ll take a right good-will draught, 
for auld lang syne.

THERE’S A LONG LONG TRAIL A WINDING (WW1) – JOHN MCCORMACK – Marilyn Armstrong

FOWC with Fandango — Trail

It’s a great song and I remember my mother singing it. In fact, I think we sang it in glee club. All our teachers were old enough to remember “the war to end all wars.”

It didn’t end all or any wars. I think it started more wars … as soon as there were enough men to fight another one.

I’m still, after doing a lot of reading on that war baffled as to how it began. There was little to be gained and much to be lost, especially by the people living in Europe where the battles were fought. They had nothing to gain and everything to lose.

It was all politics, all national leaders trying to prove that they were the most powerful in Europe and everyone bought more and more weapons.

One day, a shot was fired and a war which virtually wiped out all the men in Europe began. Does it sound vaguely familiar?

GARRY ARMSTRONG – WITH LBJ IN VIETNAM

Lyndon Baines Johnson was the 36th President of the United States, from 1963 to 1969. As President, he designed “Great Society” legislation, including civil rights, public broadcasting, Medicare, Medicaid, environmental protection, aid to education and the arts, urban and rural development, and a “War on Poverty”.

Johnson’s civil rights bills banned racial discrimination in public facilities, interstate commerce, the workplace, and housing. It included a voting rights act that guaranteed the right to vote for all U.S. citizens, of all races. Passage of the Immigration and Nationality Act of 1965 reformed the country’s immigration system, eliminating national origins quotas.

The push to get his legislation through ended Johnson’s political career. He called in every favor, bullied, cajoled, and bargained to get the needed votes. He got it done, but if any politician ever fell on his sword for what he believed was right, LBJ was that guy. Johnson was renowned for his domineering personality and his readiness to do whatever it took to advance his legislative goals.


Location: A campfire in Vietnam near Saigon.

Year: 1967.

1967 and 1968 were very intense years for me. I had jumped directly from college and small time commercial radio, to ABC Network News. The time was right and the opportunity was there, but I was a kid thrust suddenly into the big leagues. My journalistic baptism started with the 6-day war in the Middle East which began on my first day at ABC. My professional life continued with the assassinations of Dr. Martin Luther King, Robert Kennedy, the volatile 1968 Presidential campaigns and a long visit to Vietnam, the first of several.

At headquarters in New York, my assignment was to receive reports from ABC’s field correspondents. I’d speak with them over static-riddled phone lines. Difficult to hear for anyone, harder for me. The daily MACV — or war front reports — were often significantly different from what the Pentagon reported. It was disturbing, worrying. Then, they sent me to Vietnam.

The sights, sounds and smells of Vietnam are still with me, 50 years later.

ABC needed a grunt to help the news team covering President Johnson’s visit to Vietnam. I was it. My job required I not allow myself to be distracted from the work at hand. I was a young reporter still learning the ropes. I had to stay focused on the story and exclude the other harrowing images around me.

LBJ vietnam 1967It was a typical evening, the never-ending noise of artillery in the background. It was what was called “down time.” Dinner around a campfire. GI’s, South Vietnamese soldiers, politicians and news media, all hunkered down for chow. Everything was off the record. Chow was beans and some unknown local meat. Most of us ate the beans. Skipped the meat.

President Johnson or L J as he told us to call him, squatted at the point of the campfire and told some colorful tales about dealing with his pals in the Senate and Congress. The stories were punctuated with smiles and profanities. L J was drinking from a bottle which he passed around. Good stuff.

Halfway through dinner, the beans began to resonate. The smell was pungent! I must’ve had a funny look on my face because L J gave me a withering stare and asked if I had a problem. I remember sounding like a squeaky 16-year-old as I responded “No sir.” L J guffawed and passed the bottle back to me.

Before completing his trip, President Johnson confided to some of us that seeing Vietnam up close confirmed his worst fears. He broadly hinted he was unlikely to seek re-election, given the backlash of Vietnam back home in the States. I thought he sounded like one of my cowboy heroes putting duty above personal gain.

But it wasn’t a movie. It was the real thing. History,

The following day was my final encounter with Lyndon Baines Johnson. There were handshakes, a smile about our campfire evening and L J was again President Lyndon Johnson, one of the truly great American presidents.

COGNITIVE DISSONANCE AND NAZIS, REDUX – BY TOM CURLEY

I’m writing this on Saturday August 12, 2017. I only mention this because I’ve noticed that many of the blogs I’ve written since November 8th 2016 about the  “Orange Fuehrer” (yup, I’m going there) which I thought were specific to that week or day, have become “evergreen”. By that I mean if it’s re-posted  six months later, it still seems like I wrote it yesterday. Today may be different.  But somehow, I doubt it.


Cognitive dissonance is defined as one mind simultaneously holding two or more conflicting beliefs, ideas or values.

I experienced a variation of that today. Ellin, my daughter Sarah and I went to see the movie “Dunkirk” this afternoon.

It’s a very good movie. It documents the reality of what 400,000 English troops experienced for a week. They were trapped by German forces at the beach of Dunkirk. The Germans, no excuse me, to be more specific, THE NAZIS, chose to send the Luftwaffe to bomb and shoot them like fish in a barrel.

They bombed RED CROSS HOSPITAL SHIPS FILLED WITH WOUNDED SOLDIERS! NAZI U-Boats sank every ship they could find overloaded with troops.  What eventually saved the English troops were hundreds and hundreds of private citizens. These people owned small fishing boats, small pleasure boats, any kind of boat, and sailed them across the English Channel, risking their lives to rescue British troops.

Churchill hoped to save 30,000 troops. Out of 400,000. The boats that went over rescued over 350,000. They had no guns. The troops only had rifles to fight back against U-Boats and dive bombers. Dunkirk was both one of the worst moments for the allies and the best moments for the allies. When the troops reached England, there was a volunteer who was handing out blankets to the soldiers. He told each one “Well done.”

One of the soldiers replied. “All we did was survive.” The man replied “Sometimes, that’s enough.” The NAZIS went on to do more horrific things before the war was over.

My point is. The Nazis were the bad guys. I mean, really REALLY BAD GUYS. It’s rare in human history to have really, really bad guys with no redeeming qualities. The best thing you could say about Hitler was that he was nice to his dog. And we sort of need really good bad guys. After the Nazis died out, we briefly had the Klingons.

They were really bad guys. Until Star Trek Next Generation where they became not so bad guys.

But Nazis? They have ALWAYS BEEN REALLY, REALLY BAD GUYS. Hell, in German schools, from grade school on up, they are upfront with their history. They make sure every German is aware of exactly what happened in WWII to make sure that it never happens again.

At least, in Germany.  I bring all of this up because when I came home from watching Dunkirk, I started watching the news. White nationalists, waving NAZI flags and Confederate flags, were rioting in Charlottesville at what they called a “Unite the Right” rally. A NAZI, drove a car into a group of counter-protesters, killing one and wounding 19 others. These were not Germans. White men, born here.

I cannot call them Americans. Their leaders claim that “they are fulfilling the promises of Donald J. Trump. They are taking back America.”

They led a nighttime rally reminiscent of Hitler’s rallies of the 1930’s. But they did it in polo shirts and with  TIKI torches! TIKI torches! Are you kidding me??? I went to a Luau clam bake and a KKK rally broke out!

The Governor of Virginia gave a stirring speech saying that these NAZIS were not welcome in Virginia. They were not welcome in America. He is right.

What did our Asshole-In-Chief say? He said a lot of people are to blame — but never mentioned …. THE FUCKING NAZIS!!!!!

Here’s the dissonance.

We fought a war against these assholes. My dad and his generation served and died fighting against these assholes. For those few who are still alive, what must they think watching the news — today, Saturday, August 12th. 2017?

What has happened to us? NAZIS ARE THE BAD GUYS!

I usually try to be funny with my posts.

I try to find the humor in the insanity that has become our reality. But not today. Maybe tomorrow.

COGNITIVE DISSONANCE AND NAZIS – BY TOM CURLEY

I’m writing this on Saturday August 12, 2017. I only mention this because I’ve noticed that many of the blogs I’ve written since November 8th 2016 about the  “Orange Fuehrer” (yup, I’m going there) which I thought were specific to that week or day, have become “evergreen”. By that I mean if it’s re-posted  six months later, it still seems like I wrote it yesterday. Today may be different.  But somehow, I doubt it.


Cognitive dissonance is defined as one mind simultaneously holding two or more conflicting beliefs, ideas or values.

I experienced a variation of that today. Ellin, my daughter Sarah and I went to see the movie “Dunkirk” this afternoon.

It’s a very good movie. It documents the reality of what 400,000 English troops experienced for a week. They were trapped by German forces at the beach of Dunkirk. The Germans, no excuse me, to be more specific, THE NAZIS, chose to send the Luftwaffe to bomb and shoot them like fish in a barrel.

They bombed RED CROSS HOSPITAL SHIPS FILLED WITH WOUNDED SOLDIERS! NAZI U-Boats sank every ship they could find overloaded with troops.  What eventually saved the English troops were hundreds and hundreds of private citizens. These people owned small fishing boats, small pleasure boats, any kind of boat, and sailed them across the English Channel, risking their lives to rescue British troops.

Churchill hoped to save 30,000 troops. Out of 400,000. The boats that went over rescued over 350,000. They had no guns. The troops only had rifles to fight back against U-Boats and dive bombers. Dunkirk was both one of the worst moments for the allies and the best moments for the allies. When the troops reached England, there was a volunteer who was handing out blankets to the soldiers. He told each one “Well done.”

One of the soldiers replied. “All we did was survive.” The man replied “Sometimes, that’s enough.” The NAZIS went on to do more horrific things before the war was over.

My point is. The Nazis were the bad guys. I mean, really REALLY BAD GUYS. It’s rare in human history to have really, really bad guys with no redeeming qualities. The best thing you could say about Hitler was that he was nice to his dog. And we sort of need really good bad guys. After the Nazis died out, we briefly had the Klingons.

They were really bad guys. Until Star Trek Next Generation where they became not so bad guys.

But Nazis? They have ALWAYS BEEN REALLY, REALLY BAD GUYS. Hell, in German schools, from grade school on up, they are upfront with their history. They make sure every German is aware of exactly what happened in WWII to make sure that it never happens again.

At least, in Germany.  I bring all of this up because when I came home from watching Dunkirk, I started watching the news. White nationalists, waving NAZI flags and Confederate flags, were rioting in Charlottesville at what they called a “Unite the Right” rally. A NAZI, drove a car into a group of counter-protesters, killing one and wounding 19 others. These were not Germans. White men, born here.

I cannot call them Americans. Their leaders claim that “they are fulfilling the promises of Donald J. Trump. They are taking back America.”

They led a nighttime rally reminiscent of Hitler’s rallies of the 1930’s. But they did it in polo shirts and with  TIKI torches! TIKI torches! Are you kidding me??? I went to a Luau clam bake and a KKK rally broke out!

The Governor of Virginia gave a stirring speech saying that these NAZIS were not welcome in Virginia. They were not welcome in America. He is right.

What did our Asshole-In-Chief say? He said a lot of people are to blame — but never mentioned …. THE FUCKING NAZIS!!!!!

Here’s the dissonance.

We fought a war against these assholes. My dad and his generation served and died fighting against these assholes. For those few who are still alive, what must they think watching the news — today, Saturday, August 12th. 2017?

What has happened to us? NAZIS ARE THE BAD GUYS!

I usually try to be funny with my posts.

I try to find the humor in the insanity that has become our reality. But not today. Maybe tomorrow.

MEMORIAL DAY 2017 – REMEMBERANCE

Memorial Day


Memorial Day (formerly Decoration Day) is observed on the last Monday of May. It commemorates the men and women who died in military service. In observance of the holiday, many people visit cemeteries and memorials, and volunteers place American flags on each grave site at national cemeteries.

A national moment of remembrance takes place at 3:00 p.m. local time.

72-Flags-Party_07

Three years after the Civil War ended, on May 5, 1868, the head of an organization of Union veterans — the Grand Army of the Republic (GAR) — established Decoration Day as a time for the nation to decorate the graves of the war dead with flowers. Maj. Gen. John A. Logan declared that Decoration Day should be observed on May 30. It is believed that date was chosen because flowers would be in bloom all over the country.

The first large observance was held that year at Arlington National Cemetery, across the Potomac River from Washington, D.C.

Harbor flag

The ceremonies centered around the mourning-draped veranda of the Arlington mansion, once the home of Gen. Robert E. Lee. Various Washington officials, including Gen. and Mrs. Ulysses S. Grant, presided over the ceremonies.

d-day remembrance manchaug memorial

After speeches, children from the Soldiers’ and Sailors’ Orphan Home and members of the GAR made their way through the cemetery, strewing flowers on both Union and Confederate graves, reciting prayers and singing hymns.


Israel, my other country, did not have a memorial day as such. There was Independence Day, celebrating the country’s official nationhood … and a very somber Holocaust Day. Independence Day was the only non-religious holiday during which businesses and the government closed down.

Holocaust Day, the only thing that closed was the television and radio station which did not broadcast. The sirens blew for a full minute at 8 in the morning and again at 4 in the afternoon. Everybody stopped what they were doing and stood until the sirens stopped. Traffic stopped. Cars and trucks pulled to the roadside. Drivers got out and stood. Listened. Remembered.

Even if you were alone in your home, you stood to honor those dead who never carried a weapon and got no medals.


Official holidays become less important as we get older, but personal milestones become more meaningful. Calendar marking become more like seasonal reminders and less like a time to party.

Have a great weekend, however you celebrate. Remember those who fought … and those who died because a war happened to them.

It’s good to remember war, to hope we’ll someday stop fighting and find another way to settle our differences.