Steve G.

Posts Tagged ‘Veterans’

Loving Our Veterans

In Civil Liberties, Human Rights Abuses, Protest on November 25, 2009 at 1:55 pm

Loving our Veterans

By Don Meinshausen

freedonnow@yahoo.com

 

Despite the holidays of Memorial Day and Veteran’s Day there is little appreciation for veterans. Oh there may be a few generals and politicians pontificating and maybe a parade and a concert but that’s usually seen as patriotic blather for the media and for the declining numbers that remember the conflict or care.  Very few show up. Most go to the beach or stay home.

 

Of course there is not much for the guys who really paid a big price in a war that are still with us.  The amputee, the horribly disfigured, with scarred psyches to match and those who will be in and out of hospitals for the rest of their lives.  And then there are those who were so heavily traumatized that they cannot handle the crowds, the rhetoric and the fireworks will not be brought out or would come out for these events.  It would be too upsetting for all concerned.

 

Now I am not a veteran and I am fortunate enough not to have anyone close to me who was so damaged.  Regardless of what you think of war or a particular conflict you can’t help but sympathize with their situation.  I have thought it would be an interesting experiment to survey those who really suffered in Vietnam, Afghanistan or Iraq.  I’m not talking about the desk jockeys, short timers or those who saw little action even though they might have been willing to be in harm’s way.  Just to go to the ones who have really suffered and spent some time there and ask  “Was it worth it?”  Maybe they are just as divided as all Americans are years after the conflict. It stands to reason that they would have more wisdom on such conflicts than the pundits, armchair generals and chicken hawks that decide where the next war should be. I think that our wounded vets would be happy to give advice after all that time lying in beds in VA hospitals thinking about their decisions. I think that all of us reading this, hawk and dove alike, would agree that the counsel of such men would be valuable about the worth of war.

 

Most of us men decided not go to war. Only a few avoided due to conscience. Some used the system of deferments to avoid something unpleasant. Others avoided because of fear. Some still agonize over that decision not to serve.  While such a survey would be fascinating, I would not force these veterans through another painful reappraisal.  But many of them who are psychologically fit though scarred, are just waiting to be asked.  Maybe even men in the same unit who fought side by side and suffered the same wounds might have radically different ideas about their service.

 

There was a book called “The Warriors” that showed studies of veterans of different nations and conflicts who were interviewed about why they fought.  The reasons for their participation were not bravery, patriotism, and hatred of the enemy, ideology or religious values.  The primary reason was the bonding of the men who fought side by side and the honor shared between them.

 

This holds especially true for the terribly scarred, whether physically and emotionally, returning from Iraq and Afghanistan.  Let us not make the same mistake we did with the Vietnam veterans who were ignored. They had such high addiction and homeless problems that laws were passed banning discrimination based on service in Vietnam.  The trauma veterans suffer is obvious even after decades have lapsed. It is so widespread that the military is considering asking the government to change the law to allow the use of psychedelics, like MDMA, to treat their veterans PTSD or post traumatic stress disorder.

 

In my middle class hometown of Nutley, New Jersey there was a man named Eddie who was a veteran of the First World War.  He would walk the streets and sometimes started screaming.  He was brought home from the war for being shell-shocked or PTSD.  He still heard the shells explode almost fifty years after the war ended.

 

 

Do you remember the movie “Born on the Fourth of July”?  A young marine shot and crippled in Vietnam returns home and travels with a friend to a town outside the US.  The town is known among veterans for its brothels and bars.  The women there are very sympathetic and very poor and not bad looking.  The movie shows the town as a continuous party with too much drinking. But remember what they have been through. It seems to help but its not officially noted by the veteran’s groups or the VA.

 

This makes sense.  The great sex destinations of the Pacific to this day are Bangkok and Pattaya in Thailand and Angeles in the Philippines.  These sex tourist towns got their start courtesy of the US military during the 60’s and were regulated by them.  During the Vietnam War R&R (Rest and Recreation) was called I&I (Intercourse and Intoxication) to the soldiers who went to Bangkok and Pattaya.  Angeles served the Clark Air Force Base and a nearby naval base.  In fact Angeles American Legion Post has a high membership because retirees can find a wife or young girlfriend there who actually wants a relationship. Veterans are very respected here.

 

Back to our disabled veterans who in their minds and remaining body parts are still manly studs and needing affection.  Even with the sexual revolution of carefree contraception these guys find it next to impossible to get laid.  No medal is going to make up for the loss of appearance and self-esteem of missing eyes, hearing, limbs, bodily functions, looks and peace of mind.  Even if they can wheelchair out of a VA hospital, how can these guys go out to a local bar where they will be stared at?

 

There is also the movie “Coming Home” about a disabled Vietnam vet that does get an American woman to fall in love with him with no financial motive.  The American woman happens to be Jane Fonda, and for the life of me I can’t understand why a woman who would go to bat (so to speak) for disabled Vietnam vets is so scorned by veteran groups.

 

There is no movie from a conservative point of view that shows a disabled Vietnam or Iraq war vet who finds love.  Sexual or romantic fantasies via Hollywood would help a lot.  These men still need sex.  These men still need to be held and loved.  The women who provide it whether out of money, personal need or financial support can show love and care as well as any nurse or wife. Some hookers even marry these guys.

 

Many women do this to support parents and their children.  No woman should be forced to be a prostitute, but it can be an ennobling profession.  To be able to combine passion and compassion and give it to guys who may be so traumatized that they cannot respond emotionally is practically sainthood in my opinion. This is the reason that there was in ancient society a tradition of sacred prostitution. Such acts of love and the teaching of love were considered homage to the Goddess.

 

I think of women who respond to soldier’s needs as Valkyrie. They were the Rhine Maidens of German Wagnerian folklore who picked up the dead heroes off the battlefield and carried them to Valhalla or paradise.  Amazon Grace, how sweet the sound, to save a wretch like me.

 

The juxtaposition of sex and death is a powerful one and can be misused. The Valkyrie image was used to motivate women in Nazi Germany to drop Victorian mores and marriage requirements to help repopulate the Reich’s battle casualties in state sanctioned sexual celebration. This release from the strict sexual mores of Germany also was used to motivate potential soldiers as well. The progeny were to be raised by the state or state approved families

This was actually a way to destroy family structure as well as a way to enforce racism.

 

There is a different archetype of women in war that is emerging. There are now women soldiers dressed in khaki to help search and interrogate civilian women and some see actual combat. In Israel they do practically all the jobs that male soldiers do. The more safer, saner and more feminist version of the woman/warrior image is the fantasy/science fiction vixen in Heavy Metal or biker chick attired in studded black leather bikinis and a sword.  Totally hot.  Totally cool.  Sexy, but not my cup of tea and not the model of compassion that might be appropriate here for those traumatized by war.  Besides women are outnumbered by men in the military. Many of these guys can’t get this kind of action, so to poor countries they go.

 

 

In third world countries, twenty bucks for a sex act is more pay than a week’s work in a sweatshop of twelve-hour days.  And you can’t work on your back in a factory or pulling a plow.  Of course the guys are not always so bad and the girls are not always so good.  But with a legal system of brothels men are protected against disease and theft.  Women also have protection against violent and drunken men and predators.

 

According to a prostitution rights activist, based on the Green River killings and other reports there are several unknown serial killers who prey on prostitutes and hitchhikers in every American metropolitan area.  When their activities are illegal and scorned by society, prostitutes are so afraid of the system that many don’t even report rapes, robberies or missing co-workers. The police would rather ignore, exploit or arrest them. In Ciudad Juarez, Mexico many mutilated bodies have been found and hundreds of women are missing.

 

In sex tourist areas even with a quasi-legal format, the hookers are more relaxed and friendly because they are safe from prisons, police rapes and psychotic customers.  Word gets out about who is crazy, alcoholic, dishonest, etc., and these people don’t get hired or serviced as the case might be.  Nicer people become popular and relationships sometimes form and the traditional heart of gold hooker becomes a reality. Extortionist pimping is rare.

 

Here even the most wretched have a chance for passion or even a relationship.  The US military and the State Department is now under pressure by the so-called Christian Right to close this venue even in foreign countries for civilians, soldiers and veterans alike.  We’ve heard it all before for decades.  Prostitution denigrates marriage.  It exploits women.  It gives foreigners a bad image of America.  Sleazy shock journalists, control freaks and moralizers ignore the underlying racism and fascism of attacking poor foreign women who want jobs and relationships with American men.  Nobody asks the servicemen or veterans, who like the ladies’ attention, the ladies themselves or even their neighbors who value the tourist money it brings.

 

Do we care about our servicemen and veterans enough to listen to what they want?  Let me put it this way.  Why don’t all those nice church groups volunteer to give these poor disabled heroes charity sex or porn?  It would be part of the great tradition of pubic support for American servicemen that goes back to World War 2.

 

There were women in America back then called Victory Girls or V Girls like the Valkyrie.  They worked or hung out at USO canteens, dance halls and bars and offered something more sought for than a doughnut. They flouted the strict moral standards of the day by having sex without marriage with soldiers on their way to the front.  In those days any woman who did not hold onto her virginity until marriage was considered a whore. No respectable man would marry her and could have the marriage annulled if she did not bleed on her wedding night. Why should our heroes have to die a virgin or rush into marriage?  These men were risking their lives and honor and the women thought they had an obligation to do the same.  (Venereal disease was such a risk that sometimes they were called VD girls.) . Considering that many soldiers dying young in combat would never have a chance at passion and that many women would not have a chance at marriage due to so many soldiers dying the answer would seem obvious today. But then was a different morality.

 

Still they helped the men the best way they knew to help their morale.  Considering their reduced opportunities to find men during and after the war it was the logical marriage strategy since if the guy came back the relationship could re-ignite.

 

There are many statues of generals and rulers who start and run wars in our parks and military cemeteries. These types rarely see the blood and gore of war and they do profit by it. There are few statues of soldiers who suffer greatly and are poorly compensated for their pain. There are still fewer statues of nurses who had their hands full of traumatized, wounded and needy men.

 

Someday there will be a statue of those whose contribution has been ignored or covered in shame. They took care of our soldiers most deep, personal wants that no one in command would even acknowledge. There should be a statue or some recognition of the V-Girls and prostitutes. They have taken care of wounded, traumatized and lonely soldiers and veterans for ages uncounted.

 

 

But to get that statue a statute need to be repealed. Let’s legalize prostitution to help our soldiers and veterans.  At least send some porn to your local VA hospital.  You do care about veterans, don’t you?

 

Don Meinshausen is a founder of the libertarian movement in that he organized the draft card burning at the 1969 YAF convention, which is regarded in “Radicals for Capitalism” as the “founding of the modern libertarian movement.”  He is also known for his connections with Robert Anton Wilson, Karl Hess and Timothy Leary and being a former political prisoner. He is looking for work in any part of the country.

 

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Antiwar songs: “Rooster” by Alice In Chains

In Celebrities, Communism, Entertainment, History, Military, Music, Obituaries, Protest, US Government, Veterans, War on April 22, 2008 at 9:27 pm

Alice In ChainsThis video is especially interesting because it includes snippets of an interview with guitarist Jerry Cantrell’s father, who served two tours in Vietnam. In the father’s interview, he states that he hopes no one else will ever have to go through what he went through.

Jerry Cantrell never even met his father, Jerry Sr. (nicknamed “Rooster”), until he was three years old. Up until then, his father had been a soldier. About his father, Jerry once said:

My dad was trained to be a fucking killer. After that, you can’t just come back home and say, “OK, everything’s cool. I’m going to work 9 to 5 now.” That shit scars you forever.

“Rooster” is Jerry’s tribute to his father’s suffering. I will warn you, though, that the video contains explicit images of war.

For those of you who would prefer to not view images of that nature, this second video is the unplugged version of the same song, which shows nothing but the band performing:

Here are the lyrics, in case any of you can’t make them all out:

Ain’t found no way to kill me yet
Eyes burn with stinging sweat
Seems every path leads me to nowhere

Wife and kids, household pet
Army green was no safe bet
The bullets scream to me from somewhere

Here they come to snuff the Rooster
Yeah here come the Rooster, yeah
You know he ain’t gonna die
No, no, no, ya know he ain’t gonna die

Walkin’ tall machine gun man
They spit on me in my homeland
Gloria sent me pictures of my boy

Got my pills ‘gainst mosquito death
My buddy’s breathin his dyin’ breath
Oh God please, won’t you help me make it through

Here they come to snuff the Rooster
Yeah here come the Rooster, yeah
You know he ain’t gonna die
No, no, no ya know he ain’t gonna die

Alice In Chains is Layne Staley, lead singer/songwriter; Jerry Cantrell, guitarist/vocals/songwriter; Mike Inez, bassist; and Sean Kinney, drummer. AiC was one of the most popular and successful heavy metal bands to come out of the early 90s Seattle music scene, along with Pearl Jam and Soundgarden.

AiC was nominated for a Grammy for “Best Heavy Metal Group”, and nominated for an American Music Award for “Favorite Heavy Metal Artist”.  AiC reached platinum album status with both “Dirt” (which contained “Rooster”) and “Facelift”, and was awarded an MTV Music Award for best video from a film, with “Would” (from the film “Singles”).

Singer Layne Staley, ranked #27 in Hit Parader’s “Heavy Metal’s All Time Top 100 Vocalists” and widely considered one of the most influential singers in rock, struggled with a severe heroin addiction for over a decade, and finally succumbed to the ravages of that addiction in 2002.

RIP, Layne.

Gravel announces Libertarian presidential run

In Congress, Global Warming, Guantanamo, Health, Iran, Libertarian Party-US, Politics, Presidential Candidates, Science, Taxation, Torture, US Government, Veterans, War on March 26, 2008 at 4:59 pm

Mike Gravel

A Personal Message from Mike

I wanted to update you on my latest plans before news gets out. Today, I am announcing my plan to join the Libertarian Party, because the Democratic Party no longer represents my vision for our great country. I wanted my supporters to get this news first, because you have been the ones who have kept my campaign alive since I first declared my candidacy on April 17, 2006.

The fact is, the Democratic Party today is no longer the party of FDR. It is a party that continues to sustain war, the military-industrial complex and imperialism — all of which I find anathema to my views.

By and large, I have been repeatedly marginalized in both national debates and in media exposure by the Democratic leadership, which works in tandem with the corporate interests that control what we read and hear in the media.

I look forward to advancing my presidential candidacy within the Libertarian Party, which is considerably closer to my values, my foreign policy views and my domestic views.

Please take a moment to make your most generous donation to my presidential campaign today. $10, $20, $50 — whatever you feel you can afford.

I want to thank you all for your continued support.

_______________________________

So, what are Gravel’s views on the issues? Here are some issue statements from his website:

The War in Iraq Senator Gravel’s position on Iraq remains clear and consistent: to commence an immediate and orderly withdrawal of all U.S. troops that will have them home within 120 days. The sooner U.S. troops are withdrawn, the sooner we can pursue aggressive diplomacy to bring an end to the civil war that currently consumes Iraq. Senator Gravel seeks to work with neighboring countries to lead a collective effort to bring peace to Iraq.

One of the leading opponents of the Vietnam War, Senator Gravel was one of the first current or former elected officials to publicly oppose the planned invasion of Iraq in 2002. He appeared on MSNBC prior to the invasion insisting that intelligence showed that there were indeed no weapons of mass destruction, that Iraq posed no threat to the United States and that invading Iraq was against America’s national interests and would result in a disaster of epic proportions for both the United States and the Iraqi people.

Today, more than four years into the invasion, the death toll of U.S. troops has climbed over 3,300 with over 50,000 more permanently maimed, some having lost limbs, others their sight. Tens of thousands more are afflicted with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) and urgently need psychological care. The Iraqi civilian death toll nears three-quarters of a million, and still there remains no end in sight to the bloodshed.

As President, Senator Gravel will call for a U.S. corporate withdrawal from Iraq and hand over reconstruction contracts to Iraqi businesses which will empower Iraqi nationals to reconstruct their own country.

The National Initiative for Democracy Mike fully supports the National Initiative for Democracy. The NI4D is a way to bring legislative power back to the people. In many states, citizens can put measures on the ballot and Mike believes as citizens of the United States we should all have that power.

Iran and Syria Senator Gravel opposes a military confrontation with Iran and Syria and advocates a diplomatic solution to the current situation.

Global Warming/Climate Change Senator Gravel believes that global climate change is a matter of national security and survivability of the plant. As President, he will act swiftly to reduce America’s carbon footprint in the world by initiating legislation to tax carbon at the source and cap carbon emissions. he is also committed to leading the fight against global deforestation, which today is second only to the energy sector as a source of greenhouse gases. However, any legislation will have little impact on the global environment if we do not work together with other global polluters. China, India, and under-developed nations all work together fighting climate change can only be effective if it is a collective global effort. As President, Senator Gravel will see that the U.S. launches and leads a massive global scientific effort, integrating the world’s scientific and engineering community, to end energy dependence on oil and integrate the world scientific community in this task.

Progressive Taxes – A fair Tax Senator Gravel’s Progressive Fair Tax proposal calls for eliminating the IRS and the income tax and replacing it with a national sales tax on new products and services. To compensate for the tax on necessities, such as food, lodging, transportation and clothing, there would be a “rebate” to reimburse taxpayers. This would be paid in a monthly check from the government to all citizens. The focus on taxing new goods would also help tackle the global climate change problem.

Healthcare Senator Gravel advocates a universal healthcare system that provides equal medical services to all citizens, paid for by a retail sales tax (a portion of the Progressive Fair tax). Citizens would pay nothing for health benefits.

Reproductive Rights Senator Mike Gravel supports a woman’s right to decide if and when to have children. He also supports a woman’s right to make the difficult decision about abortion without interference by government authorities. Comprehensive, age-appropriate sex education, including accurate information about contraception, can always be provided in order to reduce the number of unintended pregnancies and abortions. Parity in health insurance and access to specialized family health care services, including family planning education, would also benefit the health and welfare of infants and children, who need and deserve to be wanted and loved.

Immigration Senator Gravel favors protecting our borders and monitoring the flow of immigrants into our country. He also favors a guest worker program and setting up naturalization procedures that would fairly bring immigrants into legal status. America must address the root cause of illegal immigration. Any discussion of immigration must include NAFTA and the concept of “free trade.” The North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) has been a disaster for the working class of both the U.S. and Mexico and a boon to the international corporate interests. A study by the Economic Policy Institute found that over 1 million U.S. jobs were lost as a result of NAFTA, a third of them manufacturing jobs. In Mexico, 1.3 million farm workers lost their jobs in the same period. This has led to a wave of immigrants looking for work in the U.S. Reforming unfair trade policies spawned by measures like NAFTA will stimulate job growth on both sides of the border.

LGBT Rights Senator Gravel supports same-sex marriage and opposes the Defense of Marriage Act. He supports expanding hate-crime legislation and opposes laws that allow discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation or one’s gender identity or expression. Senator Gravel strongly opposes the military’s “Don’t Ask Don’t Tell” legislation on the grounds that it is unconstitutional, as it restricts the rights of gay Americans. He opposes any state or national constitutional amendment that restricts the rights of the gay community.

Social Security Senator Gravel wants to put real money, rather than borrowed money, in the Social Security Trust Fund. He advocates investing it properly and identifying the interests of individual beneficiaries so they can know what their retirement fund is and leave surplus funds to heirs.

Education Access to public education is a bedrock American value. Why is it then that the United States ranks 49th in literacy and that an estimated 30% of our students don’t graduate from high school? Investing in education provides a pathway to a thriving national economy, to individual and family economic opportunity, and to the reduction of poverty. A successful education system requires the commitment of families, the community, and government. It’s time to re-order our national budget priorities in order to improve the American education system. Parent education and access to preschool programs such as Head Start need to be expanded so that children from low income families are equally ready to benefit from elementary school. Universal pre-kindergarten would also enhance readiness. Encouraging our students to be the best they can be will require flexibility from the federal and state governments, within school systems, and from groups with a stake in educational success. Flexibility may mean extended school days and summer learning opportunities or extended school years. It may mean online and broadcast courses to provide access to highly qualified teachers. It may mean charter schools to address the needs of local communities, smaller classes, enrichment programs for students at risk, and vocational options. One thing we know for sure: No Child Left Behind has left too many children behind. It needs to be reformed and adequately funded. It needs to acknowledge the need for a fuller curriculum that encourages critical thinking-not just math and science test-taking. A high school diploma should be the minimum goal for all students; without it, our children will be condemned to a substandard economic existence.

Veteran’s Affairs As President, Senator Gravel would ensure that veterans receive full funding for their most important needs, including healthcare that is indexed to the increasing cost of care and medicine. He would make sure that all soldiers receive a full medical diagnosis to assess what their individual needs would be. He would also make sure that the VA system is fully financed and has sufficient well-trained personnel to provide the finest care that is available. As the Senator says, “We can do no less and we will do much more.” Mike Gravel is the only military veteran in the democratic race.

The War on Drugs The War on Drugs has been a failure. It is time to end prohibition and start treating addiction as a public health problem. This has ravaged our inner cities, and we are losing an entire generation of men and women to prisons. We must regulate hard drugs for the purpose of treating addicts, which would emphasize rehabilitation and prevention over incarceration. We must decriminalize minor drug offenses and increase the availability and visibility of substance abuse treatment in our communities as well as in jails and prisons. The United States incarcerates more people and at a higher rate than any other industrialized nation in the world. Some 2.3 million Americans are now behind bars. This tragedy must end.

Net Neutrality Net Neutrality aims to keep the Internet free from large companies, which are trying to limit the number of web sites their customers can view and the speed at which they can view them. Senator Gravel guarantees a free and open Internet with unlimited access to all sites. He will do this by supporting legislation and regulation that keeps you in control of your Internet usage and promotes free speech.

Human Rights Senator Gravel is adamantly opposed to torture, indefinite detention, and the deprivation of lawyers/speedy trials. He opposes the Military Commissions Act, flagrant ignorance of the Geneva convention, and Guantanamo.