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Who has the famous al-Zaidi Bush shoes

Everyone's clamoring for the shoe heard around the world. The several manufacturers who claim to have cobbled the offending black oxfords are deluged in orders. A Saudi man has offered ten million dollars for Muntadhar al-Zaidi's original pair. But the NYT reports: "Explosives tests by investigators destroyed the offending footwear." Whaaaaaaaaaaaaat?! I don't believe that shit for a minute. If airport security can verify footwear inertness in a few seconds... Not that a pair of worn leather shoes matters a whit. But there is more than shoe fetish at foot here. And I find something about the fate of this pair of shoes that's awfully unlike a Skull and Bones man. Idolatry The Saudi who offered the king's ransom for the "Medal of Freedom" shoes, may have been enraptured by idolatry, but he knows the magical allure which those shoes will always possess. How can any of us deny the mystical energy we attribute to baseballs marked by having been hit to home runs? All Americans take, or aspire to take, a pilgrimage to the Smithsonian to see the actual, for real, objects of their common heritage. Museums of art and natural history, glean an idolatry all their own, but historical collections like the Smithsonian and the British Imperial War Museum, peddle in pure talisman mysticism. The crown jewels come to mind, or any ordinary person's diamond. Stones, crystals, runes, coins, fetishes, heirlooms, antiques, personal designer accessories, safety blankets. We swim in stuff which have meaning greater than their utility. Even poor Diogenes had his lantern. Who are we kidding that mere objects don't have enormous power over us? I myself keep everything. I frequently feel I'm drowning in remembrances and chanced-upon objects for which I aspire sentiment. Would that I could focus on strength-building empowering articles. I'm reminded of last year's sale of a copy of the Magna Carta, was it, to a modern Wall Street robber baron. I was not alone to surmise that he paid 21 million for the now-transgressed compact, probably to wipe his ass with it. As the great white hunters paid their safari guides in hope of being the last to personally vanquish whatever late species was next to be rendered extinct. The al-Zaidi Shoes This famous pair of shoes were thrown by Muntadhar al-Zaidi at President Bush, al-Zaidi being the first man to dare show defiance to the US Nero. Although, certain intellectuals do come to mind, for having voiced their discontent with his policies. I remember too, a certain brave Indonesian witch doctor who cast a magic curse on the universally despised Bush. Ki Gendeng Pamungkas placed a jinx to shorten Bush's stay in Indonesia, it wasn't a fatal voodoo spell, for that would have been just as illegal as making threats is in the US. I will always believe there must have been countless more who've cursed Bush to his face, if prudently under their breath. But journalist al-Zaidi did the one act above all others. He showed open, physical defiance. At the bottom line, against an imperial

Papieren Bitte? Just your shoes please

Most people can easily conjure the cinematic image of Gestapo officers blocking train passengers, demanding "Your papers please." That such a scene could ever develop in America, haunts citizens opposed to national identity cards or embedded microchips. But with modern surveillance methods as pervasive as cellphones, perhaps today's state security services have less need to verify who we are. I'll assert the US Department of Homeland Security is charged more with making Americans feel the heavy boot print of authoritarianism. I think that in the wake of 9/11, this nation has indeed mobilized a "papers please" law enforcement policy. The proof is there in black and white in the Patriot Act; you can see it in the Civil Liberties-free zone which immigration officers have been empowered to enforce to 100 miles inland from our borders; and you can see it at our airports. Last night's 60-Minutes questioned the punitive aspects of the TSA measures to which today's airline passengers are subjected. Less surprisingly, CBS also suggested their probable ineffectiveness. Having just paid a holiday visit to DIA, I was inclined to see more. Yes, this is another holiday post. Credit where credit is due? It's no coincidence this is about shoes. Papieren Bitte First, I'd like to deconstruct the film mythology, which originated in wartime, from Hollywood Home Front propaganda meant to demonize the Hun. Certainly the trench-coated SS officer, or leather-jacketed Gestapo detective, asking for your documents, cut a villainous figure. But they were, in reality, as out of the ordinary as today's FBI or CIA agents. Have you ever happened upon a one of those? More often by far, during WWII, the job of asking for a traveler's "Legitimacion" was assigned to the gendarmes of the occupied countries, or to the collaborators who'd been deputized. These were ordinary constables and men who otherwise were unfit to serve in combat. Old frumps, maligned and bitter. If you can picture the run-of-the-mill TSA troll, you see where I'm going. Public Transportation Where travelers a half-century ago were taking trains, today the public city-to-city lattice is airborne. Today we queue for planes, not trains. And instead of producing our "papers" --I should say, IN ADDITION to producing our papers-- we are required to remove our shoes, all sorts of articles, submit to searches, and refrain from carrying certain items, in order to thread the needle that allows us access to public travel. I'm not sure if today's security screening isn't the equivalent of the depiction of the 40s silver-screen. Before you argue that I'm being alarmist, please consider that most Germans during the war, indeed the overwhelming majority of citizens of occupied Europe, had little to fear by being asked for their documents. You or I are not insurgents on the lam, nor aspiring bomb-throwers. We do not fear being sent to Guantanamo. Indeed, you might remember, the movie heroes who sweated the Nazi checkpoints were always resistance fighters, saboteurs, or escaped Allied prisoners. Today, ask yourself how an enemy of the USA would fare trying to use

The gilded age and the police nightstick

A legacy institution of the Gilded Age is the Waldorf=Astoria Hotel. Most of us only know it from the nutty salad, the mysterious Red Velvet Cake recipe, Thousand Island Dressing and Veal Oscar named for the famous maitre d' hotel. I encountered the book of recipes collected by "Oscar of the Waldorf" and its cover illustration caught my eye. The coachman and carriage don't look so opulent to us today, but do you recognize a timeless trapping of affluence? There's nothing else in the picture but the policeman and his nightstick. We almost dismiss the incongruity of the attendant police officer. That's because he's Officer Friendly to us, circa the 1950s egalitarian economic boom, earned post New Deal and post WWII, when law enforcement began to serve and protect the middle class share of the pie. Before those times, whose order did the police enforce? Could the Waldorf diorama have featured some other occupation at the curb? A newsboy, a shoeshine, or a traffic director? If the cabbie is picking up late night revelers, why not depict a doorman or lamplighter? If this scene did not include the policeman, he'd be missing. The Gilded Age of the soaring wealth of bankers and industrialists, of the steel, coal, and rail robber barons, came at the expense of poverty wages for all the rest. The homeless of America's eastern cities died in the streets, if they crossed the paths of the leisure class at all. As in London, where the bobbies were celebrated for carrying no guns, cops on the beat didn't need more than a nightstick to beat back beggars and riffraff. Just as in the Waldorf illustration, the policeman's nightstick isn't holstered, it is fingered idly like a baton. We've seen it in countless Chaplin, Keaton, and Keystone reels. The policeman's baton might be carried idly, and animated mindlessly as a clerk might twirl a pencil, but the gyrations telegraphed a swinging function meant to be understood. Today, a modern financial crisis has finally hit the post industrial era, and unemployment is taking a precipitous plunge. The repercussions for the American middle class are yet unclear to most, their comforts still too tangible to fathom gone. But our modern times have already seen the resurgence of the Rich And Famous, (to even beyond the lunge of our Super-Lotto winners, who always chose the sub-six-figure annuity). Exclusive cars, toy submarines and tickets into space cost multi-millions, but the rich have that money to burn. Common Americans have also watched the armoring of their police, using weapons which offend us, but which protect the security of institutional wealth. Para-military police forces are the natural escalation of the right-to-bear-arms arms-race, the equivalent of nightsticks to quell our social disquiet. Already aren't we seeing the police block the public's way, lest we soil the red carpet of the well-heeled? Aren't police blocking free speech in public spaces, when the monied media has decided it wants the backdrop to serve their message?

Colo. Springs celebrates underage vets

COLORADO SPRINGS- The average age of a uniformed participant in this year's Veteran's Day Parade was underage! The high school Junior ROTCs, the Young Marines, the Devil Pups, and the scouts, pulled the age downward against the ever diminishing number of retired combat vets. I think the Hussar-clad HS marching bands brought the mean down too. While officially the youthful paraders were there to cheer the old vets, it's hard to imagine the cries of "thank you" were not intended for the ears of those in attendance who were still part of the military. Actually a large number of those involved in the Veteran's Day Parade are active duty, when not on deployment. Belonging to a pro-militant fan club such as the Colorado Springs Young Marines does not make you a soldier, nor I should hope a soldier-to-be. But their recruits are already veterans of US militarism and the warrior indoctrination process. The Young Marines are sponsored by the Marine Corps, a rather audacious recruiting beachhead considering Colorado Springs is an Army and Air Force town. Note: the Marines have no JROTC program here, and the fewest nationwide. What does that say about the age they target? Not to be outdone by the Young Marines, the Colorado Springs Youth Marine Club goes by the name DEVIL PUPS, although it offers its conscripts the chance to "learn code of conduct from Godly Veterans." Note the better fitting uniform and helmet, sized for infants. The Devil Pups are affiliated with a Camp Pendleton Devil Pups Inc. Though They claim to be neither a mini-boot-camp, nor a para-military outfit, the Devil Pups require that children "must pass a Physical Fitness Test, cannot be on any type of medication for any reason, [and] cannot have asthma (no exceptions)." Do you doubt the Boy Scouts are a para-military organization? These scoutmasters don't. STILL SERVING THROUGH SCOUTING read one banner. Another read RETURNING TO THE VALUES SCOUTING NEVER LEFT. Were those the values of Kit Carson to which you're alluding? Here are elementary school students riding on a float sponsored by the Globe Charter School. They hold posters celebrating the four branches of the military, plus the National Guard and the Coast Guard. Rampart High School's marching band, the "Rampart Regiment" costumed in deaths-head Hessian uniforms. Our land-locked state also has a JROTC for students interested in the Navy. Three out of the four Colorado high schools enrolled in the Navy program are in Colorado Springs. They are Mesa Ridge, Wasson and Widefield. Oddly, none of Colorado's 21 Army JROTC high school programs are in COS. The Air Force has five of seven participating high schools: Harrison, William Mitchell, Air Academy, Falcon and Sand Creek. The parade of vintage cars provides a suitable reminder that all modern wars, post WWI, like these models, have been fought over the resource needed to fuel them. Unafraid to make that point directly, the Military Vehicle Collectors Club solicits donations to KEEP 'EM ROLLING. This 40s staff car ferried former Waves who served the Navy in

Denver Columbus Day Parade wants to kick indigenous ass

DENVER- Does it look like the COLUMBUS DAY PARADE organizers are practically begging for a comeuppance? Here comes the US cavalry of the American Indian Wars to finish the job Columbus began. On Columbus Day, the anniversary which has now become a teaching moment about revisiting the Columbus myth, about the holocaust unleashed by the European discovery, conquest and enslavement of North America, isn't it rather odd to CALL IN THE CALVARY? I MEAN, a celebration of Italian Americans is one thing. Is Christopher Columbus the only hero they can muster? Why not the Pope? I'm all for diverting Americans from the stereotype of the Sicilian American Sopranos legacy. But make it about pizza, not the frigging conquest of the American West. Columbus' own diaries confess his exploitive inhumane designs in Hispaniola. White man western expansion was no less genocidal. Who should be celebrating that? This squad looks like they're reenacting Colonel Chivington and his raiders freshly back from the Sand Creek Massacre. Perhaps they are retracing the victory lap the soldiers rode in Denver, festooned with the body parts of their victims, women and children, they exhibited as trophies of their victorious raid on the Indian encampment at Sand Creek. How fitting that for the modern day route, the western revelers drive Hummers. The glorification of the military is not coincidental, nor perhaps is the celebration of the uneducated. Do YOU, for example, count Winston Churchill's WWII England among your ancestors? Here is the invitation to the 2008 parade: "On Saturday October 11, 2008, at 10:00AM, we will celebrate the American National Holiday which commemorates Columbus' contribution to the formation of this great nation. It will also remind each one of us of the blood, sweat and tears our ancestors shed so that we might live and enjoy our lives in the land of the free." These are the Denver organizers' own photos of the 2007 parade. In the next you can catch an unedited glimpse of a protester. And what other can that be but a reactionary scowl? Here's what those opposed to the Columbus commemoration are putting together. 1. RACE, RESISTANCE AND THE COLUMBIAN LEGACY Join nationally-known activist Glenn Spagnuolo, co-founder of Re-create 68, for a night of education and dialogue about race in America and resistance to the Columbian Legacy! When: 5pm Thursday, October 9, 2008 Where: CU Boulder Campus, Hale Hall Room 240 2. Columbus Day Resistance March and Rally The annual protest of the Columbus Day Holiday and the racism that it embodies will begin with a march from Four Winds that ends at the Capitol Building followed by a rally for a better future. When: March starts at 8 am, Rally at 9am, Saturday, October 11 Where: Start of March is at Four Winds at 5th and Bannock in Denver 3. People's Council Following the Columbus Day resistance, people will be gathering to organize a new alliance locally that can act as a national vehicle for radicals. Bring your thoughts and cooperative energy. Please come and represent

Insurgents, prairie dogs and Laser Tag

I remember discovering the difference between target shooting and Laser Tag. At a firing range you could look calmly down your gun sight and concentrate without distraction. Same with hunting. But Laser Tag, Paintball, or the doubtlessly misnomered Airsoft, let you experience what it's like to be shot at. Who would believe aiming a gun is so different under fire? In Laser Tag, you had to wear an infrared sensor to make yourself a target to your opponent's fire. We used to wrap the sensor belt around our heads because it seemed the most fair vulnerability. Otherwise it was too easy to obscure your sensor between you and the ground or against whatever you were hiding behind. On your forehead, the sensor would become visible whenever you yourself attempted to poke up your head to take a shot. I learned to cheat by crawling under cars to obscure my forehead in the undercarriage while my line of sight remained unimpeded. Of course I was a sitting duck when spotted. But from no matter what covered position, I found it much harder to take aim when adversaries were directing their fire at me. If you'd succeeded in concealing your vantage point, you were free to concentrate on your aim. But now you were challenged with a further trembling sensation in your fingers. Now there was a heightened hesitation to pull the trigger, because the moment you did, your position would be revealed and you'd attract fire. This is the predicament we discount when we think of military snipers. Though it seems quite plainly cowardly to shoot unsuspecting opponents from a concealed position, often snipers have to operate from hiding places deep in enemy territory. When they finally take their shot, snipers become prey themselves. I think about this immediate blowback consequence when I think of Iraqis or Afghans who contemplate taking aim at the US military machine. Insurgents face technology and firepower to obliterate the very hill from which they might be shooting. It would seem that anyone who would dare to stand armed against US forces would be a suicide bomber. It's near certain death to fire a Kalashnikov knowing that US electronics can very quickly extrapolate your location and bring ordinance against you like a fly-swatter against a fly. In WWII against Japan, we held a sad esteem for the suicide pilots of the last desperate Japanese efforts. The Kamikazes would pilot explosive laden aircraft which had no landing gears in case they changed their minds. It seemed like lunacy, and often they were young, and barely trained. I wondered if our soldiers accord the Iraqi or Afghan insurgents a similar awed respect. To merely raise your head from the rubble, without Kevlar armor, requires a bravery to defy the gods. What a cost to try to defend your homeland against America's overwhelming might. I couldn't do it. You draw almost certain overkill coming from unforeseen points, high in the sky, laser-guided by a team of technicians in climate controlled comfort on the other side

Conservatism Is For Sociopaths

Oh, those caucasians. Russia and Georgia go to war over Ossetia. Thousands are dead, capitol of Ossetia is in ruins, and Bush has declared we are on Georgia's side...against Russia. So enjoy your weekend, it might be our last. Pakistan is toppling dictator Musharraf. Pelosi says "What? You can't impeach a dictator!" Condi Rice gives Israel a "green light" to attack Iran and start WWIII. Witness the Nazi State of Israel. As we all suspected, Cheney has his own private torture dungeon underneath the White House. Cheney's flying monkey Douglas Feith forged document linking Saddam and al Qaeda. New McCain ad calls Obama the AntiChrist. A country this stupid can't survive for very long. Jury gives Salim Hamdan (bin Laden's driver) a 66 month sentence, including time served — which means he can go home in January. Needless to say, der Führer is pissed, he was demanding a 30 year sentence. Excerpts from Thomas McCullock's notes Aug 8, thomasmc.com.

Howabout an unexpurgated face of war

The US media was not permitted to depict fallen soldiers, in or out of the coffin. Next military censors forbade photos of US wounded. Most recently US soldiers have been under orders to prohibit the press from photographing them at all, to promote the illusion that our Iraqi surrogates alone are handling security. How infuriated our officials must have been to see this photograph in the international press. Do Americans not want to see their fallen boys? In my recent experience with death, I most certainly wanted to see what happened straight up. Do the families of soldiers really not want to see how their loved one met his/her fate? What utter bullshit! If they don't I do. Someone should care enough for the poor lost life! Hopefully the total control our military has been asserting over media images will result in more outright mutiny on the part of international photo journalists. Not long ago, a sequence of photos which documented the aftermath of an IED led the DoD to forbid all depictions of even wounded soldiers. The picture below shows a victim trying vainly to join his comrades who made it to cover. He didn't die. But this image most certainly is dispiriting to Americans watching safely from their homes, who are losing their stamina for an ugly war. Before coverage of operations in Iraq were safely controlled by only embedded reporters, freelance photographers were able to record images reminiscent of WWII, Korea and Vietnam. These GIs fell in the assault on Fallujah. Fortunately for the Pentagon, Iraq is now too dangerous for journalist who don't have American minders. A recent so-called breach of an embed contract yielded images of the aftermath of a suicide-bomb attack. The American photographer incurred heavy criticism for publishing the pictures which his Marine unit had ordered him to erase. But they were published in B&W, which invokes the famous WWII Pacific Theater dead, but it does lessen the realism, doesn't it? These casualties seem more distant than our losses in Vietnam. And how do you reconcile that the simultaneous photos of the Iraqi casualties were printed adjacent in color? We can handle seeing the red of their blood, but not ours?

Fog of War is not Fog for War Crime

No pictures have yet emerged of what the 595 A-team Fifth Special Forces did with the captured Taliban at the mass graves at Dasht-e Leili. The BBC documentary Massacre at Mazar reports that an Afghan who sought the reputed black market video evidence was beaten by Northern Allied warlord men and left for dead. In late November 2001 at the battle of Kondutz, several thousand surrendering Taliban promised amnesty, were loaded at Qala Zeini fort into thirteen unventilated shipping containers, bound and blindfolded, some hogtied, and transported to to Sheberghan prison where their dead bodies poured out like fish. US special forces directed the containers be taken to the desert where the bodies were spilled into trenches. Witnesses report that the dozen US soldiers killed those Taliban fighters who emerged alive.

Compare Eastern Front EMBED footage

Embedding journalists in the military is not new. It's simply privatizing the Army press corp. Doesn't this early coverage of Operation Barbarossa look strikingly like the US advance on Baghdad? Support the Troops!

Support the Troops executing civilians

Early in WWII, a German Army film staff recorded this deed in color: enraged by the loss of two officers on April 21, 1941, the invading German soldiers gathered 36 random males from the town of Pancevo, Vojvodina and hung or shot them. How different was this from what US soldiers did on November 19, 2005, in Haditha, Iraq? In Haditha American Marines killed the women and children too. The Pancevo events in 1941 were kept from the German public lest their support for their troops waiver.

The Dirty Half-Dozen Dozen Dozen

The US Department of Defense is recruiting felons to fill its ranks. The number of criminals enlisted in 2007 is double that in 2006. No news yet about whether the figure exponentiates in 2008.

Dead Chetnik discovered in US embassy

Angry Serbs stormed the American embassy in Belgrade to protest the US support of Kosovo independence. In the aftermath a charred body was found. Strange detail, don't you think? Standard news reports would say one killed, or that there had been one casualty. Instead the stories describe "a charred body was discovered in an unoccupied area" of one of the embassy buildings. State Department spokesmen made clear it wasn't a US national, nor an embassy employee, suggesting this was a protester. Or was it a secret detainee? Was this an interrogation water-boarding victim, left to dry, then to burn to a crisp? Was this a Janet Reno set fire? The trouble for George's crew was that the discovery was not in the part of the embassy breached by the rioters. Nor was it where the US diplomats have their offices. For what uses are the "unoccupied" buildings behind the embassy walls? Otherwise it's damned convenient to suggest the charred body could be one of the rioters. As a rebellious anti-American Serb, his/her profile would likely coincide with that of a person of interest US agents might have been holding for extraordinary rendition, or working over for intelligence. Why is the USA a backer of Kosovo independence? Kosovo has long been a province of Serbia, but suffered in WWII when the Germans massacred most of the families who lived there in retaliation for the deeds of the Chetnik partisans. As Albanian refugees moved into the empty houses, the population of Kosovo shifted until today the separatists outnumber the historic inhabitants. Otherwise, what cause has Kosovo to split from its countryside? America fought a civil war to keep its southern states from seceding from the union. Yet today we cheer when minority regions want to break from their national borders, when those borders are those of our enemy. The soviet member states from the former union for example, or Chechnya from Russia, or Kosovo from Serbia. When it involves our allies, we show less enthusiasm: Kurdistan, Timor, Taiwan.

Ultimately collaborators meet their due

When I hear our reporters echo the US DoD press releases, "the surge is working," our troops can withdraw "soon, but not yet," I like to think of this iconic Time-Life image. Justice was ultimately served on those who collaborated with the Third Reich. Sheared, jeered, run out of town.

Solitary confinement blocks for Ft Carson

Mark Lewis has been sent photographs taken by an alert Southeast Coloradan, of trucks laden with strange cargo for the Ft Carson PCMS. Strapped to each truck bed are several self contained units, of what appear to be modular living quarters, if your idea of a studio apartment is a single room, five foot by ten. On one end of each there's a window in the form of a single narrow slit and at the other end a door with a similar window and a small utility door. If you were to imagine a place to conceal the Man in the Iron Mask in 21st Century prefab construction material, this would be it. The modular design looks like they're made to fit into a honeycomb, reached by way of metal grates. A recent executive order has cleared the way for military bases to house civilian detention facilities. I imagined barracks like the WWII internment camps. These accommodations look more suited to Guantanamo.

The War in Iraq

In my opinion, noted chronicler Ken Burns, whom I otherwise respect, does Americans a great disservice to title his multimedia WWII homage THE WAR. I do resent the President and his enablers admonishing Americans for what may or may not be appropriate behavior "in a time of war." We were not "at war" during the Cold War or the War on Drugs. And the War on Terror is equally an [existential, so-called] abstraction. Fighting terrorists, including the invasion of Afghanistan, is a police action. If we are talking about apprehension. Missile strikes are extra-judicial assassination. Undeclared military aggression. But since our soldiers are being sent to war, and there is profound anti-war revulsion, and congress is being asked to collude by providing war funding, and we are detaining combatants which at a minimum should be awarded Prisoner of War status, we cannot escape discussing Iraq as a war, and most notably as an illegal war. So when Ken Burns calls his WWII tome THE WAR, isn't it more than slightly dismissive of veterans of all combat since? The Vietnam War lasted three times as long as WWII, to Baby Boomers it was the war. The Korean War, termed a "conflict" to avoid having Congress refuse a declaration of war, is now called the Korean War, even tragically the Forgotten War. World War One before it was The First World War, was known as The Great War, even the War to End All Wars. De facto it WAS THE WAR, but imagine anyone thinking to call it that in the midst of WWII. Does Burns mean to deny [The] Iraq [War] its significance, even as he might suggest it lacks the legitimacy of WWII, the Just War? As Iraq casualties and atrocities slip from the headlines, it's hard to see the diversion of WWII nostalgia as helpful. Iraq may turn out to be simply the opening salvo of THE WAR declared by the corporate west on all of humanity. It deserves its due.

A plague on both your houses!

Joseph Kennedy, patriarch of what is often described as America's royal family, built his fortune by bootlegging whiskey during the Prohibition and rose to power by mob control of the unions.   Ill-gotten gains are credited by some for the fate of Joseph's offspring: the "Kennedy Curse." Son JFK, elected president, shot; son Bobbie, declaring candidacy, shot; son Ted suffers a car-crash which derails his political aspirations; son of eldest son dies in a 1999 plane crash. While Christian America ponders whether curse or karma, another constituency retains a dogged skepticism about the official account of both assassinations. That the details are still shrouded in secrecy suggests that whoever gained by killing the Kennedys is still around, and is still powerful enough to intimidate accomplices. A lesser celebrated 20th Century up and comer is la familia Bush. Prescott Bush made his money in oil and nefarious financial deals with Hitler, and with influential friends formulated the CIA in 1947. His son rose through the CIA to be president. His eldest grandson was appointed to the presidency and to infamy as well. Deathbed confessions, among other evidence, have tied the CIA to the assassination of JFK. "Conspiracy Theories" link the grassy knoll to ex-Batistas to George H. W. Bush's little Zapata offshore Anti-Castro operation. (Alex Jones recounts that in the CIA Bay of Pigs Operation, launched without Kennedy's permission, one of the American ships had been renamed "Barbara II," its namesake perhaps the Grumman Avenger "Barbara" which H. W. crash-landed in WWII.) In fact, FBI records place G. W. on the first plane to DC (from Dealey Plaza?) Recent improved photo-analysis show several high-ranking CIA operatives present at the RFK assassination in 1968. I'll leave Chappaquiddick and John John's Martha's Vineyard plane crash to future leaks and investigators. In the meantime, John Hinckley Jr., attempted assassin of Ronald Reagan while Vice President Bush was next in line, was not just any mentally disturbed highly-suggestible boy, but the son of friend of Bush's son Neil. And how about those fixed elections of 2000 and 2004? Never mind whatever it was that happened on 9/11! Is America more prepared to accept a Kennedy Curse, than the possibility that one family's and a nation's bad fortune might really have been blood spilled by Long Knives, one Fascist putsch after the next, until the burning of the Reichstag?

The face of legally blind patriotism

Gunnery Sergeant Nick Popaditch lost his eye in the assault on Fallujah. His new glass prosthetic features a holographic emblem of the US Marine Corps.   This Veterans Day, Sergeant Popaditch was awarded a medal for pioneering an innovative combat technique. Presuming an ambush, Popaditch called in an airstrike, then drove his tank forward under cover of the C-130 gunship before its firestorm had subsided. As a result Popaditch was injured, but in his words: “(We were) just inflicting a devastating number of casualties on the enemy, and we did it in a way that no one had ever done before.” This is the same tank commander immortalized on magazine covers in 2003 smoking his cigar as he assisted in toppling Saddam's statue in Firdos Square. Articles told later of Popaditch's tank named "Carnivore" storming Fallujah in retaliation for the contractors killed by jubilant Iraqis. Now he's grabbing attention with his Few-The-Proud cornea. When we recoil at WWII accounts of the Death's Head Regiment and other unthinkably morose nomenclature and regalia of the enthusiastic Nazis, can we fathom the imaginative horrors of our own X-Box-born killers? Popaditch acted courageously by venturing into an ordnance maelstrom to certain injury. But whose kind of hero?

See you in prison

Quietly, with little mention in the press, the National Security and Homeland Security Presidential Directive was signed in May 2007. This directive places all governmental power in the hands of the President in the case of a catastrophic emergency (as defined by him alone). It also allows him to take control of the private and nonprofit sectors. It effectively abolishes the checks and balances built into the Constitution and demolishes the Bill of Rights. This is, of course, necessary to keep us safe in case of a national disaster. The "Unitary Executive" would be able to act quickly and decisively, without any interference from those other two annoying branches of government, slow-moving and contentious as they are. Our Constitution has never been about efficiency. The checks and balances built into it were created to keep any one individual or branch of government from having unilateral power. It lays the groundwork for a democracy, not for a well-oiled machine. George Bush has shown extreme disdain for the Constitution, the very document he swore to uphold. He has vetoed only a handful of bills while in office, but he has attached signing statements to more than a thousand, clearly indicating scorn for Congress and his commitment to enforce only the laws he chooses. He has taken bills designed to protect the American public and has amended them to be used against us. Congress recently handed Zippy even more power by passing the Police America Act 2007. He has stripped us of our right to privacy, our right against unreasonable search and seizure, our right to due process. All in the name of the fighting terror. We already know that President "Hyperbole" Bush is a master of exaggeration, if not outright prevarication. He and his oil buddy, Cheney, lied to get us into Iraq. They've lied to keep us in Iraq. Long ago they planned to get their hands on all of that beautiful unctuous black gold under the desert. They are not about to cede power to a successor until they've gotten the goods. What terrible national catastrophe is up his sleeve that will enable him to retain power? I won't speculate about what the catastrophe will be, but WorldNetDaily.com reported yesterday that the administration has been authorized to set up civilian prisons at military installations, something that has not been done in our country since the WWII Japanese internment camps. Under international law, internment camps are used in times of war to incarcerate large groups of people deemed to be enemies or "belligerents," indefinitely and without trial, of course. Hasn't Bush already warned us that if we are not with him, then we are with the terrorists? Read the handwriting on the wall. When the occupant of the highest office in the land decides what the law is, singlehandedly, we no longer live in a democratic society. We live

Unknown soldier

My dad grew up in Norway under the occupation. He had a half-brother three years older about whom he was told nothing, who joined the Germans during the war and was killed at the Russian Front. My father wasn't told when it happened, but remembers his mother getting the telegram.   We recently learned the brother's name, and my uncle has recovered a photograph from the municipal archives. His name was Martin. I have yet to see the new picture. This is a photograph which caught my eye some years ago, and which I kept, thinking it could be my family's lost son, just as well as any other. It remains from captured German records, depicting an unnamed soldier, anyone's. How likely is it that no-one survives to recognize this boy? Martin was the product of my grandmother's ill-fated first marriage. Her husband didn't get along with her parents. He tried to poison her father, and in the attempt killed her mother. He was sent to prison, leaving my grandmother alone with the boy. When she began a new family, the older boy grew to become too much of a reminder of the deviant father, too much apparently for her new husband to bear. My grandmother was prevailed upon to send the boy away to be raised by relatives in the country. Martin disappeared before his half-siblings were old enough to remember him, traces of his memory effaced. My father remembers seeing a family picture which included a young Martin, to which my grandmother pretended, "that's you." And so one weekend a month, Gudmor would leave the family to visit her old aunt in the country. In later years my dad and his siblings figured out there was no such aunt. My grandmother died without telling the story. It's surmised that Martin grew up unwanted, ostracized by family and extended family, which may explain why on his seventeenth year, the Norwegian boy joined with the occupiers and enlisted with the Waffen SS, the German Army unit reserved for citizens of the occupied countries. He was sent to the Russian Front where he died in 1943. My father called his younger brother yesterday, on a lark, though sometimes he is psychic. His brother was sitting in his car in Oslo, contemplating the photograph he'd just obtained of their lost brother. My uncle had also learned of Martin's resting place, a cemetery for German soldiers in present-day Poland. They're making plans to go visit his grave.

The Pottery Barn community service rule

What is going to happen when this war unravels? Do Americans have any notion of the consequences of losing a war? No one made us apologize for Vietnam. We don't know! Imagine when we have to make up to everyone for Iraq and Afghanistan. It's going to mean paying war reparations with a debilitating effect on our economy. And can it mean worse? It's the urban-mythologized-product-placement "Pottery Barn Rule," you break it, you buy it, and the don't-have-enough-money-to-pay-for-dinner victim restitution principle, where you have to wash the dishes. At the end of WWII, Russia quietly rounded up all the German ex-soldiers and shipped them off in nighttime trains to Siberian work camps where they remained as captive laborers for as long as a decade after the war. Have our weekend reservists considered that eventuality in their future? Sorry dudes. We'll be supporting you troops ten years from now, sending off care packages to the Middle East to secret reconstruction camps, location unknown.

Never forget remember no thinking

A commercial van passes our noon vigil on occasion, its driver giving us one of our diminishing no-confidence gestures. On the back window of the van is a "9-11" sticker of the twin towers, the American flag and the admonition ALWAYS REMEMBER. Frequently I've seen this slogan prefixed with NEVER FORGET, so we know the dullards they are addressing.   Do you REMEMBER THE ALAMO? Hot headed American expansionists moved to annex Mexican land and their "sacrifice" at San Antonio legitimized American Manifest Destiny over Spain's. Do you REMEMBER THE MAINE? An American battleship blew up in Cuba, fueling the jingoist call to take Spain's remaining colonies for America. The Maine was later found to have exploded from the inside. Do you REMEMBER THE LUSITANIA? The German U-Boat sinking of an innocent ocean liner brought isolationist America into the First World War. It turns out the Lusitania was bringing US-made weapons and ammunition to England. Do you REMEMBER PEARL HARBOR? The Japanese sneak attack galvanized public support to fight WWII. FDR knew about the coming attack, sent the most important ships out on maneuvers, and stood down to play the victim. Remember the Gulf of Tonkin with which we contrived an excuse to attack the Vietnamese? Remember WMDs? Remember the Sudetenland? False-flag ops all. Always remember. Never learn.

Genocide remembrance for Jews only

Daniel Pearl's name is being added to the Miami Beach Holocaust Memorial. Said the murdered journalist's father, "the same forces that killed my grandparents in Auschwitz, the forces of hatred, are still operating in our world in the 21st century -- and Danny is one of the victims." Say What?! Pearl is the first non-Holocaust victim to be added to the list. No one's been added from among the victims of genocides which have ensued after WWII either. Gypsies, for example, who died along with Jews, Gays and Communists in the German extermination camps, suffer relentless persecution still, but none have been added to the list. Said the chair of the Holocaust Memorial committee, "Daniel really died for basically one reason, and basically the same reason 6 million others did, and that was for the crime of being a Jew." Though Israel's criminal acts of genocide against the Palestinians and Lebanese may invite some to think otherwise, nowhere is it a crime to be Jewish. Daniel Pearl was not the first or last Jew to visit Pakistan. Will no one consider the obvious offense Pearl's captors would have taken? Daniel Pearl was writing about Islamic militancy for the leading jingoist Neocon pro-Israel warmonger yellow-press newspaper of all, the Wall Street Journal.

Neocon regalia

For decades after the Second World War, German vets would get together in beer halls to remember the great days of the Third Reich. The Nazi cause may have become perverted, but its ideals were certainly grandiose: a Germany reborn as the worker's utopia, a master race unshackled to bring order to a never-before united Europe. My father grew up in occupied Norway. He remembers the incomparable German swagger. To this day he judges the authenticity of war movies based on whether the actors capture the arrogance of the German officers in their walk. I remember reading a Wehrmacht soldier's autobiography reflecting on the initial ease with which Germany had overrun its neighbors. "It was impossible in those days not to feel immense pride in being a German." German regalia is highly collectible now, though my father remembers the days immediately following the war when Norwegians wouldn't deign to pick up the Nazi medals, ribbons and flags strewn outside the German headquarters in newly freed Oslo. Of course the German WWII regalia is collected fervently also because it was esthetic. A deliberate malevolence was courted by the fascists, a darkness amplified by the visual design of their uniforms, equipment and printed material. Albert Speer and Leni Reifenstahl were widely condemned for their contributions to the glorification of Nazi culture. So when old SS veterans are clanging their glasses in memory of Germany's grab for the brass ring, the nostalgia has quite a bit of pomp and polish. It was an Aryan dream in smart costumes and effective looking machinery. Are ex-American servicemen going to look back at the U.S. adventures in Fascism with equal nostalgia? What trappings do the Neocons offer to distinguish their racist machinations? Wrap-around Oakleys? Kneepads and leggings? The mercenaries' gold chains and Hawaiian shirts? And what stateside? Yellow ribbons? Cheap suits? Americans exude nothing but our simpleton arrogance I'm afraid. Yankee Fascism has probably required banality to disguise it. Later Americans will have to own up to our inhumanity and hubris with the additional shame that we couldn't even transcend our ugliness for the occasion.

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