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Entries in politics (13)


A Tale of Two Martins

On Tuesday the 20th, Trayvon Martin came onto the scene for me during a press conference with his attorney that appeared on TV while I was in Florida with Kelli's mom and grandmother. I had never heard the name prior to that day. And it was something I was impatient about. I mean, I try to avoid TV as much as possible, and on that particular afternoon, we were just about to pack and leave that house in Port Orange and were on our way to catch a train to Washington DC. But all of a sudden in the last five days, Trayvon is everywhere. And the hoodie has become an iconic image as all manner of people display it, wear it, march in it, all to show solidarity with the fallen young black fellow who went out to get some candy in the wrong clothing a month ago and was felled by a white vigilante who still is out free, something that defies logic and our usual idea that the bad guys get busted. Unless they're white. Does everyone remember To Kill A Mockingbird?

It turns out that Sanford was one town we might have caught our train but we went to the next station in DeLand, which is a bit closer to Port Orange.

While in DC, I had time (while Kelli was in her meetings) to traipse around and see the National Mall, and on Thursday night, I took in the Martin Luther King memorial. It was pretty darn packed at 8 pm, full of school kids and a rich mix of Americans of all stripes. It was the one memorial I visited that elicited a bit more of a visceral response for me. I don't think it's nearly as nice a sculpture as the Lincoln but to stand under it is a powerful thing, maybe because he was almost a man of my time. (He was killed about five years before I was born.)

The link is pretty clear: two black men gunned down well before their natural times for the worst of reasons that amount to total senselessness, fear, and hatred. I think were he here today, the prophetic Rev. King would make a great pronouncement decrying the hypocrisy and injustice. 

Over the weekend, as the Facebookosphere was lit up with posts encouraging the wearing of hoodies and "I am Trayvon" messages in a display of solidarity with the victim, this image crossed my mind immediately, especially since I had taken several pictures of the memorial from all useful angles.

While in DC, I also visited the Holocaust Memorial Museum, and was able to meet a cousin of Kelli's, a convert to the Baha'i faith, and one who offered an anthology of statements about economic justice that Baha'u'llah had made about a century ago. All of it seemed to be even more focused than the stuff that Jubilee Economics works with from none other than the Bible itself. Because of this and other things, I knew something would happen as I made my first foot journey to the iconic places in DC, the seat of the Empire. Maybe the King memorial moved me because of Trayvon, but probably not in real time as I stood there and snapped my pictures; I didn't know much about the Trayvon case. But King is a perennial favorite among those of us who identify as progressive Christians. He's not just a brilliant social activist in the secular realm, but he's acting out of the radical paradigm of the Hebrew Prophets, who were the voices that criticized power run amok, idolatry, injustice, and all that. As my former pastor Jerry Lawritson likes to say, King too easily gets overlooked as a Christian pastor, but that is where he got his true voice and authority to do the "secular" work he did. The old prophets were the voices that called their societies and the powers to reform and repent. King realized it was a unified mission to serve God and country in one effort to gain justice and peaceful cooperation. 

So there is a rather delightful subversiveness about King being enshrined in stone with the national figures. He didn't hold office. And a good thing. His role, the role of the prophet, is to be on the periphery where one can avoid the entanglements and mixed loyalties that come with having power. But his prophetic power came from witnessing injustices manifested in the senseless violence that apparently is still not squelched even 44 years later. He's gone from the flesh, but you know he'd don a hoodie this week.


Stuck In The Middle

Idiocy on the RightI was driving today in the Ocean Beach community of San Diego. OB, as it is called, is usually the bastion of the countercultural scene here where you can find the best specimens of surfers, hippies and Deadheads, homeless, musicians, treehuggers and potheads and others that this town can offer. I've always found it to be pretty left leaning in general. I'm sure it is more than that, but here is one illustration that idiocy can be found at both extremes. These stickers were about a half mile apart on the same street.

It looks like these drivers shop at the same place—viva the marketplace, eh? (Both stickers or something damn close are available.)

Righty Idiocy for Sale!

Lefty Idiocy for Sale!

Idiocy on the LeftIf you don't get it at first sight, this sticker is taking a swipe at Christianity. The date sort of represents the generally accepted date of Jesus' death (usually it is given as 33 CE), or by some understandings, the start of his public ministry work. (Some interpretation of the synoptic gospels says it was just one year or so; John hints at a three year period which is more commonly accepted, IME.) I'm not sure the point is well made because I would venture a guess there was some intolerance before that date, no? I do get the point of this sticker, but it paints with too broad a brush.

A person with a sticker such as the one above probably didn't study the way Jesus routinely avoided extremes, always walking down the middle somehow, itself a statement against the polarities of opinion and practices of his day. I've been finding this path more preferable in the last couple years. As much as I was glad of the presidential election results in 2008, I said a year or two before that this would be dangerous, not because of who Barack Obama is, but because of the power of the office. Or even the lack of power. The dizzying results of a widespread Democratic win that year meant only one thing: it's dangerous up here and now the Democrats are the targets more than ever. We don't need the pendulum to keep swinging so wildly.

I think both parties are full of it and have nothing to offer us anymore because neither of them have a worldview that is in touch with reality. Both have sold us out to big money and haven't heeded the ecological signs of the times, which will wreak havoc with our economy and society. In the Old Testament, the story of Solomon hearing the case of the two women arguing over a baby at least ends in the real mother yielding to the pretender so that the baby can be spared from being cut in two to appease both women. The real mother loves her baby too much to let that happen, even if it has to concede to the other woman. Is anything like that happening in our political parties now? Does the real lover and protector of the American people really want to admit what is right and drop the argument? Right now, the ecological crisis before us (coupled with peak oil, etc.) is Solomon offering to tear us—the baby—asunder, and neither party can forsake the ego to let go and do the right thing.

Both parties are locked in their limited consciousness and can't claw out of it. I think Obama is a man of a lot of character but the seat of power he occupies demands so much compromise. The Democrats saw him—paradoxically since the party typically has a rocky history with the religious communities—almost as a messiah, the victorious leader who would send all opponents packing. I never believed it but I though him a better figure than Bush by a long shot. All this validates the biblical worldview that no human ruler will ever be "all that," and that one should place trust in God alone, with Jesus as the model for walking in between the opposing forces, the polar opposites. That is where I am being drawn, or maybe driven toward, as I watch things disintegrate in the republic here. Or like the Stealer's Wheel song goes,

Clowns to the left of me,
Jokers to the right!
Here I am—
Stuck in the middle with you!

You Gotta Be Kidding Me

I already voted for my presidential candidate. And his name didn't rhyme with "John McCain." My short list of reasons for not voting for McCain includes the following, with some humor present.

He is not shy of hauling out the tired story about his warrior past. Let me sum it up for you:

  • He is the only guy who managed to get shot down during the Vietnam war while sitting stationary on board his own ship. He was a casualty of what is called a "maritime surface-to-surface friendly fire incident."
  • Rather than spend his time like his fellow Republican/Vietnam fighter pilot Duke Cunningham (who actually shot down the enemy's planes), McCain's biggest claim to fame is getting shot down and captured. OOOOhhhh. Big deal! Even the one ace from that war—The Duke—isn't any better as a Republican politician, hanging his head in shame a while back for his dubious deal making. With that in mind, you can't even say, "well, don't give me the guy who got shot down in Vietnam, give me the guy who shot the enemy down!" It's sort of an apples-and-apples deal, and you want oranges.
  • Then, he was stupid enough to stick around for five years, often taunting his captors, who continued to beat the living shit out of him. Oh! What great foreign policy chops you got there, Johnny Boy! I can't wait till we fall to our national knees before the Russians who will have the oil we need.

So, for those undecideds out there, you gotta ask yerself if you want to vote for the guy who first can't get his plane off the ground without being shot at by his own team, and then can't keep it in the sky long enough to get home, and then has to put on a cocky (oh, Maverick-y is the word?) show of bravado when maybe some common sense would have been in order. He did do better than Bush about doing his military service, but he spent five years on the sidelines. And now that makes him presidential material?



The Brain Fart Heard 'Round The World

Okay, the Wizard, the High Priest, or even the god of the world economy made a mistake. Hey, he's only human. He didn't realize there was a housing bubble till it was bursting. What a putz!

I humbly submit these for your viral internetting pleasure—

greenspan: oops, my bad

greenspan: i had a brain fart

don't worry alan, we didn't need that economy anyway

good riddance to greenspan/god is dead



A black man might be our next president.
A dream lingers on, bound for sweet fulfillment.
Four years on, wedded love is evident.
I wonder, is this what Jesus meant?


Recent T-Shirts And Bumper Sticker Sightings

an original photo illustration called War President with all sorts of mangled imagery including inverted color national cemetary and a road sign with cattle range image on it and other twisted commentary on the war.War President, photoillustration, TAPKAE, 2004

  • 1/20/09: End of an Error
  • That's OK, I Wasn't Using My Civil Liberties Anyway
  • Let's Fix Democracy in This Country First
  • If You Want a Nation Ruled By Religion, Move to Iran
  • Bush. Like a Rock. Only Dumber.
  • If You Can Read This, You're Not Our President
  • Of Course It Hurts: You're Getting Screwed by an Elephant
  • Hey, Bush Supporters: Embarrassed Yet?
  • George Bush: Creating the Terrorists Our Kids Will Have to Fight
  • Impeachment: It's Not Just for Blow jobs Anymore
  • America: One Nation, Under Surveillance
  • They Call Him "W" So He Can Spell It
  • Whose God Do You Kill For?
  • Cheney/Satan '08
  • Jail to the Chief
  • No, Seriously, Why Did We Invade Iraq ?
  • Bad President! No Banana.
  • We Need a President Who's Fluent In At Least One Language
  • We're Making Enemies Faster Than We Can Kill Them
  • Is It Vietnam Yet?
  • Bush Doesn't Care About White People, Either
  • Where Are We Going? And Why Are We In This Hand basket?
  • You Elected Him. You Deserve Him.
  • Impeach Cheney First
  • When Bush Took Office, Gas Was $1.46
  • Pray For Impeachment
  • The Republican Party: Our Bridge to the 11th Century
  • What Part of "Bush Lied" Don't You Understand?
  • One Nation Under Clod
  • 2004: Embarrassed. 2005: Horrified. 2006: Terrified.
  • Bush Never Exhaled
  • At Least Nixon Resigned
  • Are We Kinder and Gentler Yet?

In(ter)dependence Day

In an urban society everything connects, each person's needs are fed by the skills of many others. Our lives are woven together in a fabric, but the connections that make society strong also make it vulnerable. —Threads, 1984

Last month I read Rabbi Michael Lerner's book, The Left Hand of God. His vision for America is that we should do better than we have been doing in the current milieu of greed, fear, and inequality. He has been adamant that the bottom line thinking we now share in is morally bankrupt and needs redress. Near the end of the book, he encourages us to examine our national mythology, and the holidays we celebrate. He offers that maybe Independence Day needs to be recast as Interdependence Day so that we begin to gather around the profound understanding that we are not islands, either apart from one another nor from other events in the world or in history itself.

Long before I started taking this stuff seriously, I posited that America's love affair with independence and individualism was going to get the better of us. About six years ago, when I wrote my song Suburban Silhouette, I noticed that our housing and land development "plan" was a manifestation of our love affair with independence and solitary living, but was also a major player in our social decay. Living outside of community is not a human way of life. We will realize this soon enough, as one of those painful lessons that history periodically teaches. Community living is not a hallmark of our current mode of living. Our lives today more resemble industrial artifacts, or maybe a live-by-numbers sort of existence. It's a lie that industry and advertising would like us to swallow that we are individuals if we buy this good or that, or patronize this service or that. We fabricate our "individuality" from an established and mostly widely available collection of pre-made artifacts that are for sale to those who can afford them. The self-made citizen is no more. However, that does not lead us to community, only undue dependence on a fuel-fed industrial process for delivering goods and services. Just because we are in a web of interdependence does not mean we live in community. Sorry, but a web of franchise fast food outlets and big box retailers and mortgage lenders and Amazon.com does not constitute an organic community of people who work to share in the profits of their own work and those of the people around them.

Living face-to-face communities are not founded by land speculators and developers. They are not founded by Wal Mart in Bentonville. They are not founded by Ray Kroc. They are not founded by Ford and GM. They are not created by transportation authorities. They are not the creation of oil companies. They are not created by abstract expressionist or postmodern artists. They are not founded by investors from overseas. They are not created by defense contractors or government agencies. They are not created by eBay. They are not created by philanthropic institutions. All these institutions may be able to create infrastructure and establish some sort of networking across hitherto unbreachable boundaries, but communities do not exist solely because of these institutions and their technologies or design cleverness.

I don't know what the prospects are for real human community in America. It has been killed in large part by greed. Greed has been a wolf in sheep's clothing. It has been smuggled into our land like a Trojan horse that was presented to us as a gift from industry and capitalist corporations. The old rhetoric of "what's good for corporations is good for America" is bankrupt. What is good for a corporation is good only for a corporation—to a point. It's bad for the nation, it's bad for the world, and ultimately, it's bad for the corporation in the long run. What will these hallowed corporations and industries have to provide us when the resource base is depleted? Or when we are all put out of work that would allow us to even buy things? Or when the population crashes due to overshoot/famine/disease/war?

A century of indulgence is a hard addiction to break. Addiction to leisure, individualism, and selfishness is not particularly a natural thing. Advertising-propaganda was designed to help deconstruct conventions of human life that leaned toward community welfare (not an entitlement program, you know). After all, a company with a good to sell can only sell so many of those widgets to a family if four or six people are using one widget. The way to sell a few more widgets is to condition people to own their own. What was once the "family TV" is now "one TV in each room and a DVD player in the Suburban." Same with cars themselves. By intentionally cultivating a culture that does not need to share, we not only lose the virtue of sharing, but we lose the benefits too. Sharing something like a TV, or a car, or other things that many people can use at once also kept people in proximity to each other which is conducive to talking and maintaining a life together. A TV show or movie, no matter how bad, is at least a shared experience to enter dialog that one hopes could lead to some understanding among the parties involved, and some exposures to other world views. With a shared car, people who need to cooperate to get places also need to cooperate more to be home together. More shared home time is the wellspring from which community comes in other areas of life. Relating to one's own kin is the cornerstone of society, and unfortunately, a lot of what passes for life now is geared toward diminishing or demolishing that web of relationships. We are at the third generation or so that is being raised in a world like this; those born today, the sons and daughters of people who themselves were born to the Baby Boomers who were the first generation born into a world of consumerism, are going to be that much more removed from the central familial relations that foster community. My dad's generation was the first to really grow up in a world of great material excess and unbridled consumptive habits and the distancing from community richness that seems to go hand in hand with that access to goods. I was born just as that way of life was coming of age, and it's all I have lived. People around my age who have children are giving another generation to this way of life. Who or what will keep a community ethic alive in their lives?

Nature just might be able to help, but it's the sort of help we wouldn't ask for. Eventually our energy-lavish consumption-based lifestyle will crumble a little at a time, and it will be helped along by irresponsible, self-interested politicians who believe that war and greater consumption (by those who still can do so) is the answer to our fading empire of consumption. Eventually, work and play will have to happen nearer to home. We might be confronted with the unthinkable of today: actually cooperating with people we've been told are our enemies—family, neighbors, people of color, poor people, and others. There will be holdouts of course. Some people in America just can't get out of their Antebellum mindset. But, I think for the majority of people, the trend will be clear. Either we inter-depend, or we die.

People aren't as scary up close as when they are wrapped in a ton-and-a-half of steel that goes 80 miles per hour. They're not as scary when they stand before you and aren't just objectified in the news or by other media. I keep saying it, but I don't have enemies in Iraq. Or in Afghanistan. The people I fear are not the poor people of the world outside of America who are lashing out against the injustice we bring. If anything, I am more scared of a nation of addicts in America who forgot how to share, who forgot how to be civil, who forgot how to be humble and generous, who forgot to appreciate beauty and natural complexity, who forgot how to live outside of technology. Maybe Roosevelt's statement about only having to fear is fear itself rings true. I fear Americans who fear loss. I'm more worried about people who will do anything to retain the last shards of entitlements long after they are clearly unsustainable. I fear Americans with what I call "cranial-rectal displacement disorder" (head-up-the-ass complex) in the face of global climate change, shifting alliances, fascism, and a host of other nightmares of our time. Instead of being on the same page with regards to key issues, the off-kilterness of society now will make it hard to get people to put down the pursuit of more material wealth and land and get on board with some real progress toward rebuilding shattered community life that has been replaced by computers and mass media which is essentially not able to connect with real people at the local level. There is no substitute for people in real contact.


Letter to MoveOn.org

I think it is time that MoveOn finally be the hero in the progressive movement that picks up the matter of Peak Oil and what its effects on our oil dependent society really will be, unflattering as they might be. Can we finally be straight with ourselves that our relationship to energy use is not unlike a heroin addict and his junk, and that we are doing ever more desperate things to stave off the obvious?

We need to break the addiction before it finally kills us.

What we've been seeing here in America is the desperate attempts to lie to ourselves despite so much evidence that the time has come to give it a rest. If you don't think our war and 9/11 are symptoms of all this, it's time to wake up. There has been plenty of pussyfooting around on blood-for-oil issue. Can we finally admit that Peak Oil is here whether we like it or not, and that the only way to move on is to be straight with ourselves? Peak Oil is not a partisan issue; it's just that the Dems and progressives are closer to confessing the truth than the other side, but still hold back.

There are a few congressmen who are quietly meeting to discuss this stuff. It's a start. But it's too little too late. Yesterday (Thanksgiving) brought one of the first dates offered as an oil peak date. This is real, folks. It is now. We need to stop the silly battles that the other side picks. Forget the guns, God, and gay battles. They are just distractions to keep you and me from being able to get Peak Oil on the table for discussion. It's the only topic that truly matters, and it's already at work in our world, and America has a lot to lose by not understanding it. The current administration doesn't want the cat out of the bag.

We need a leadership who can tell it to us straight, and who can lead Americans to a life with less overall consumption, while still retaining our political ideals we all cherish.


High Coup Haiku

Masters and slaves fight
Workers toil endlessly
Greed is great, amen

Perverse men clean house
Their righteousness rules the land
It aint theirs to clean

Poison drunk today
We call it progress and gloat
Better to eat the beef?

WalMart wrecks our land
Save a buck on hair dryers
Bye bye grandchildren

Oil keeps me fed
Beef, pig, wheat, corn—mass produced
Delivered by trucks

Jesus saves the poor
Illegitimate rabbis
They make much trouble

Surrounded by fools
Politics as usual
America now

Right wing nutjobs say
They have more moral values
Show me the money

God is dead today
Waiting on the underground
Radicals bomb there

America sold
Highest bidder gets the prize
China needs more cars

Allah broke all laws
Jesus forgave him humbly
Bush wants them both dead

Toxic fish served here
Food will kill oh so slowly
War will work faster!

Terror in the streets
Middle eastern question
Drive my SUV?

Grandpa worked hard days
Son had other ideas
I sweep the floor clean

Beauty runs rampant
Green trees, fresh air, love all 'round
Aint memory grand?


Making The World Safe For Democracy

Numbers have dehumanized us. Over breakfast coffee we read of 40,000 American dead in Vietnam. Instead of vomiting, we reach for the toast. Our morning rush through crowded streets is not to cry murder but to hit that trough before somebody else gobbles our share.

An equation: 40,000 dead young men = 3,000 tons of bone and flesh, 124,000 pounds of brain matter, 50,000 gallons of blood, 1,840,000 years of life that will never be lived, 100,000 children who will never be born. —Dalton Trumbo, Johnny Got His Gun (Introduction to 1970 edition)

dead heroes in a flag draped coffin, being flown in over night so no one knows

Well, it's Memorial day again. It's a day when in order to remember the fallen heroes, we drink and grill steaks. We shop. We drive huge gas guzzling SUVs to the national cemeteries. We watch sappy TV specials with hazy images of the brave men and women who fought for our fast food joints, big box retailers, and parking lots. The people doing the recollecting say what a good kid they had and how he loved his country and how they would do it a hundred times over, blah, blah, blah. I think the only thing we need to bother to remember on Memorial day is how wretched war is and how it should absolutely be the last resort.

One thing I want to make sure everyone remembers on Memorial day is a book and movie by Dalton Trumbo called Johnny Got His Gun. I read that about a year ago and it was stirring. Disturbing. Prophetic. The story, for those not in the know, is about a good ol' American boy from a farm who went off to war in WW I. ("The Great War" "the war to end all wars" "the war that would make the world safe for democracy" et cetera.) He was injured beyond belief, maimed in the battlefield in such a way to supposedly warrant the amputation of all his limbs, and a near total destruction of his head, leaving him with nothing more than a brain and torso, essentially. He had no eyes, ears, mouth, nose, or jaw. The entire book is about his thoughts running amok with memories and new sensations of being essentially a thinking stump, or as he eventually considers himself, a living dead man.

With no eyes or ears, he has no way to form an awareness of the world around him, which he finally establishes by fine tuning his sensitivity to vibrations of foot steps, and the nuances of sunlight on the little bit of skin that is exposed. But all of this takes years to develop. He wants to die but can't, and can not even communicate to his nurse except through the morse code he knows, which can only be tapped out by his head bobbing on his pillow, which his keepers interpret as a seizure which is put down with drugs. So his time is spent not even aware of if he is awake or asleep, or whether the sensations he has and the images in his mind are real or imagined, or memories. Memories are frequent and serve to ease him away from the anxiety and depression. His life is let to continue on despite being a living dead man. He sarcastically entertains the idea of being a circus freak taken on tours to show the wretchedness of war. His thoughts are a blur. He senses a rat crawling on him and doesn't know if it is real or a dream. If nothing else, it reminds him of a Prussian soldier he saw who had been dead for days and was having his face eaten off by rats.

The rats take on a metaphorical meaning; he finds his politics in instances like these when he realizes the loss to the soldiers on both side of the war is the real loss, and the real gain is being had by the men who use these soldiers as pawns in their games of power and prestige. Some years later, George Orwell would echo this notion that a war has to be waged against a population just to maintain the hierarchy of society. Joe, our living dead man realizes that the notions of liberty, democracy, and justice all have meanings that are vague and can be used by different people for different ends. He much prefers the concrete appeal of a house, or the sunlight, or his girlfriend, or anything that was his home life before the war. That was what men thought of and cherished, and could fight for, but not some abstraction that was sold them in order to go fight wars that they themselves would not benefit from.

He ruminates: there are a lot of laws on the books but none that say a man's life is his own. Dead men don't cherish the sunshine and the pastoral life. Dead men are not happy. Dead men can't enjoy liberty. Dead men can't reap the benefits of their war labor. Men are herded off to battle to work for others with plans for new social orders that don't include them. He realizes he can't even die as he would want to. He can't even commit suicide. He can't rail against his captors because none but his nurse can remotely understand him.

Finally he does get the morse code across, sending repeated SOS messages. The doctors don't know what to do. The military doesn't know what to do. So they let him live on. He wants to commit suicide, or to have them pull the plug on him, but he is told "what you ask is against regulations." He is kept alive to suit the egos of the medical and military establishments, to see how bad off a human can be and still be alive. Trapped in a body that isn't even nimble enough to roll off the bed and crash to the floor, he waits for years and years, not knowing what his fate will ever be, but knowing that death would have been better.

suv truck with the national cemetery in the backgroundSo on Memorial day, I think we have to remember that things are not all that different now in the wars we wage and the damage the men receive in doing work for other powers that really could not care in the least for them if it were up to them. As in Joe Bonham's case, he was kept alive when he should have been dead. He went from being a living breathing young man to being a science experiment with an existential crisis the size of Jupiter. But what of today's soldiers? Some are maimed pretty badly, losing a limb or two or perhaps like Max Cleland, three limbs. Or some are blinded. Some will be cut in two by hemicorporectomies to salvage their upper halves. Some are brain damaged. Some have nerve damage. If not from a terrible blast, now we have such wretched stuff like depleted uranium which is the gift that keeps on giving.

On one hand, we can praise modern medicine for allowing various parts of humans to carry on somewhat like regular humans. But what if these soldiers are living anything like Joe Bonham? I do not wish them dead; but let us just be reminded that even the silver lining of high tech medical care in the battle zones could be an oppressive thing because it allows people to endure things that would have killed them. It is another facet of the insanity of modern warfare that even those who are on the edge of death and facing a severe cut in the quality of life are kept around. I've heard it said that this Iraq war was even worse than Vietnam in that regard—men and women who "should be dead" from their massive injuries are still around, with the massive drain on resources, patience, and emotions. Is that more humane?

The overwhelmingly sick thing is not the matter of the tragically injured living or dying, but that the war itself is morally bankrupt and for the most part, none of these people should have been there in the first place! So I would think it a terrible case of literally adding insult to injury that these fighters are out there risking their lives and coming back with essentially fatal injuries for no reason but to help people live shallow lives devoid of conscience for the world or its inhabitants, or of a higher spiritual life that we have abandoned, if ever we had one. As Jim Kunstler says, when a soldier is laying there bleeding in the battlefield, is he thinking of what he is really fighting for? Parking lots, fast food, and big box shops? Would he think it was worth the sacrifice as his blood runs from his body into the street?

original poster with three images: 87 octane gas loses a soldier an arm; 89 loses a leg, and 91 loses a lifeThe miracle of modern medicine should not be coupled with the savagery of war to add up to maimed and permanently injured men and women who went to war in good faith that they were preserving something great. How would they feel if their real mission was billed as "fight for the right to use natural resources in a careless and shortsighted fashion so that men of power can be made richer than sin, and the earth can be left a poisoned cesspool for your children." If that was up on the recruitment commercials and posters, would we still have our ostensibly "all volunteer" army? Of course not! But if you say that liberty, democracy, truth, justice, and the American Way are at stake, then people will line up to defend all those things even though they are all vague abstractions that mean one thing for a captain of industry or a room of stockholders, and something wildly different for the poor schmucks who have to do the grunt work to make that possible.

I am done with soft focus television features about our fallen men and women. It is insulting. It's propaganda. It's fascismo—glorifying the war machine. Last year I rode my bike around Fort Rosecrans National Cemetary to see where my grandfather was buried, and to pay my respects to his sacrifice. Sadly, I had to avoid being run over by the others there who drove SUVs, seemingly in direct contradiction to our present war effort. Cluelessly, they pay tribute to their war dead while driving at least one example of the very things that made our Iraq war "necessary": conspicuous consumption. Make that "crassly conspicuous consumption."

I would like to also say that I have no enemies in Iraq, and neither do any of you. Our enemy is our way of life, and the powers that have sold it to us, and have provided us with little or no option but to buy this one package they have been selling for a couple generations now. If you want to launch a "war on XXXX" then launch a war on capitalism, corporate dominance, fascism and the suburban way of life we all enjoy. Forget the war on drugs, or the war on terror. We need a war on perverse and pathological pursuits of power and profit. That is our enemy.