Archive for the war Category

One Man’s War: A Review of Vertigo’s Unknown Soldier

Posted in comic books, war with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , on June 7, 2010 by vagabondsaint

When I read last week at Comics Alliance that DC/Vertigo’s Unknown Soldier, a modern remake of a Silver Age character, was going to end with issue #25, I finally decided to give the book a look.  I didn’t really need to add to my already-too-long list of ongoing titles that I’m reading, so knowing it would be over soon due to low sales (despite great critical acclaim) made picking up the trades seem a much better idea.

I was originally going to give a little background on the character of the Unknown Soldier, but, since the version created by Joshua Dysart and Alberto Ponticelli has little to do with previous versions of the character, I decided to skip over that step and get right to my take on the first two trades. (If you want some background on the old character, look here.)

*****SPOILER WARNING!!!!!!!!************

When I first read Art Spiegelman’s Maus (just Book One so far; I have Book Two but I’m waiting until my best friend can read with), I was pretty well shocked at the conditions that Jews in WWII Poland faced on a daily basis.  Starvation, few resources, Nazi occupation, being killed for little or no reason at all, hiding in attics or basements and living in constant fear of discovery by Nazis or betrayal by one of their own. . .it was incredible, to me.  Even 60 years later, it was hard to swallow, and served as a poignant reminder of why, after WWII, most of the world (and especially Jewish people) said “Never again.”

Well, the Holocaust hasn’t happened again yet, to my knowledge.

But Dysart and Ponticelli, in a move that perhaps explains their low sales, remind readers that horrors still happen in the world.

Unlike the Silver Age Soldier (and the 80s and 90s remakes), the Soldier of this Vertigo series isn’t a World War II spy.  He’s not even a soldier.  Instead, he’s just a doctor, Ugandan-born Dr. Lwanga Moses, whose family fled the country for America in 1978, shortly before rebels overthrew Ugandan dictator Idi Amin Dada Oumee.  The book takes place in 2002, as Harvard-educated Dr. Lwanga (surnames are given first there, as in Japan and other Asian countries), now a prominent activist, has returned to Uganda in order to provide medical aid to refugees from the war between the government forces of corrupt President Museveni and rebel leader Joseph Kony, a Christian extremist who calls his forces Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA).  In-country, Moses begins having violent nightmares, but in them he is the one committing the violence, something both unlikely of and horrifying to the peaceful doctor, who preaches that violence is not the answer to Africa’s problems.

When a young boy, injured from being stabbed in the head, wanders into the camp and tells the doctors that he was attacked in the bush by rebels and that they have taken his sister, Moses can no longer sit on the sidelines.  Knowing what happens to girls when they are taken by rebels (more on that later), Moses runs into the bush, intent on rescuing her, taking a government soldier with him for protection.  Instead, two rebels surprise them, kill the government soldier, and are about to kill Moses when a voice in his head tells him how to take the rifle away and kill the rebel, which he does, and orders the other to take the unconscious girl to the camp.  Alone, horrified that he has killed a child (though the child was aiming a rifle at him at the time), and haunted by the unfamiliar voice in his head, he takes a rock and tries to carve the voice out of his head, hideously scarring his face and eventually passing out in the wilderness, surrounded by the bodies of the government soldier and the rebel he killed.

And that’s the end of the first issue.

In the second, which I’ll just kind of sum up here, Moses is found and his head wrapped in bandages, which is the signature look of the Unknown Soldier, and his conflict with both the rebels and the Ugandan government  has only begun.  He turns his back on the camp, his past life, even his wife, and sets out to fix Uganda’s problem by the violent means he shunned in his former life. . .aided, instructed, and driven by the strange voice in his head.  We the readers are tagging along and seeing the stories from many viewpoints:  Lwanga Sera, the wife that refuses to give up hope that her husband is still alive; Margaret Wells, the American actress who seems to truly believe that she can use her fame to make a difference in Uganda; Jack Howl, a former CIA agent who wants to be left alone but is dragged back into manipulating events, and Dr. Lwanga, by various factions; and the soldiers, rebels, and people of the various Ugandan tribes.

As you might have guessed, this is not a pretty book, even though the art is pretty good.  Dysart’s writing is tight, rarely wasting words or images, to the point, and captivating.  (I have to admit that I am very impressed with Dysart, who traveled to Uganda, drove through a minefield, and spoke with the tribe that he mostly portrays in this book before he started writing it.) It’s unflinchingly violent, and yet doesn’t glorify the violence; any joy that even the most twisted reader could have taken in seeing the “hero” kill many of the “bad guy” rebels is taken away by both the protagonist’s own self-hatred for his actions and the fact that the rebel “soldiers” are mostly children.

There, I think, lies the crux of this book:  by and large, the horrors being committed in this war are committed upon women and children.  They are also being committed by women and children:  most of Kony’s rebels are young boys taken from their homes and forced to fight, rape, kill and torture for him, and the mastermind of a plot to kill Wells in the second TP is a woman.  The horrors of this war are not merely what is inflicted upon the innocent, but what the innocent are forced to do.

A child soldier freed from Kony’s army by Moses tells the story of being taken from his home, forced to march miles to the rebel camp, and along the way taking other children and often killing family members that tried to stop them. He tells of being beaten for not liking the violence, of boys being killed by other kidnapped boys for being sick on the march, of torture and bullying and brainwashing, and finally, once liberated of all that, the survivors of his family fear him “tainted” by his unwilling time with the rebels and don’t want him back.

As for girls, well, girl children are kidnapped and either raped and killed on the spot or forced to serve as “wives” for the rebel soldiers.  They are taken from their homes, kidnapped at gunpoint from orphanages, abducted from the bush; in this world, nowhere is safe for them.  Even refugee camps can be attacked and raided.

This isn’t the 1940s.  It’s not the colonial struggles of the late 19th century, or the tribal wars of the 16th and 15th centuries that supplied slaves for the British an their colonies.  This is eight fucking years ago, right here on earth.   While we were busy fighting a war in one country that protected terrorists and being duped into a war with one that couldn’t attack us on their best day, these unprecedented horrors were being perpetrated on the continent that was largely the birthplace of the human race, and went mostly ignored by the world.

It’s still going on now.

The LRA (which, along with its leader Joseph Kony and its batshit-insane religious extremism, is real) has now gone multinational, being active in the Congo, the Central African Republic, and the Sudan.  They continue to abduct children, often forcing them to kill their parents, and force them to serve as soldiers or “wives”.  Hundreds of thousands of refugees continue to pour into displaced persons camps, their homes burned, their families disfigured, killed, or kidnapped, and relief efforts cannot keep up with the constant flow of wounded, sick people.

And on the economic side. . .as Dr. Lwanga points out, it’s extremely easy for American and European businesses to obtain permission to operate in African countries, but it’s nearly impossible for African businesses to obtain the same permissions to do business in the US and Europe.  Western governments allow the corrupt Ugandan President Museveni to do pretty much as he wishes with their support, because, as much as he marginalized and obstructed peace processes, stole resources from the Congo, and taken the property of refugees, he’s still better than Kony. . .but the lesser of two evils is still, as the world should remember, evil.

So yes, because of the trade inequalities, lack of investments, and manipulation and interference by intelligence agencies, America and other Western countries are complicit in prolonging the poverty and miserable conditions that engender these horrible civil wars and lead people to follow religious extremists.   There is blood on Uncle Sam’s  hands.

It’s unpleasant to face the fact that things like this happen in the modern world.  It’s hard to swallow that the “greatest country on earth” has any hand in the unbelievable suffering happening in Africa, directly or indirectly.  And even though they’re true, I do not think many people like to be reminded of either of those facts.

That’s why I think this book, this lightless journey into a foreign culture with heavy doses of wartime philosophy and human costs of political decisions, this dark tale of a distant war, this book which illustrates that there is no glory in war but instead only the commission of small tragedies to prevent larger ones, this book which shows the people whose blood stains the hands of the whole world and proves that the only differences between them and us are matters of scale and opportunity, this violent, engrossing, fascinating voyage into the dark hearts of humanity, did not sell well and has been canceled.

Another tragedy.

Unknown Soldier Volume One:  Haunted House and Volume Two:  Easy Kill are available in bookstores now.

VS  – 6.7.1o

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Quick Shots

Posted in brilliance, economics, legal system, politics, randoma, reproductive health, the complete opposite of brilliance, war with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on September 22, 2009 by vagabondsaint

Some insight into my blog-writing process:  every day, I read the Huffington Post, New York Times, and various other internet news sources looking for interesting things to write about.  Once I find something, I bookmark it in a folder called “blog ideas,” to look into later or do more research about – or totally ignore.  Of the things that I find, maybe 20% of them actually do get written about here; for others, I lose interest, the moment’s urgency passes, I just don’t have enough to say on the topic to justify a full entry, or I just never get around to the actual writing part. (I do have a life, and it sometimes gets in the way.)  Sometimes I just don’t know what to say.

Now that my list has grown way too bloody long, I’ve decided to share some of the things I didn’t write about before.  However, since there are so many, I’ll have to limit my comments on each item to just one or two lines and let you read the links.

Basically, this is my bookmark clearing-house.  Ready, set. . .go!

1. Missouri coffee drinkers share the hot, steaming cup of love!

2. Smarter than the average bear?  Maybe.  Smarter than a top-of-the-line bear-proof canister? Definitely!

3. When this guy says he’s “gotta see a man about a horse,” call the police.

4. You know the real estate market is rough when people get violent over Monopoly properties. . .

5. It’s not just Alaska’s problem:  rape victims in many places often have to foot the bill for examinations and rape kits.

6. Something to keep in mind next time you call someone a slut. . .or are called one yourself.

7. When you’re tripping balls, every bush is on fire and can talk – so was Moses just high?

8. Conservative think-tank (they can think?) Heritage Foundation calls a bill pushing for harsher child-rape penalties “overcriminalization.” People, I beg you, do not trust Republicans around your children.

9.  Yes, Dear Canada, America is, in fact, on crack.

10. The Chinese have better political sensibilities than we do; they trust sex workers more than politicians.

11. Proof that God has a sense of humour: A British actor in a swine flu prevention commercial came down with – wait for it – swine flu.

12. What you’ve always suspected is true:  your brain really is working against you. As is the CIA.

13. If you only click one of these links, for the love of all that’s good and holy, make it this one about how and why conservative are always wrong. . .with historical evidence to back it up.  Brilliant!

14. Beauty is in the eye of the beholder – and the Photoshop of the photo editor.

15. I don’t know how to fix the obesity problem in this country, but I’m pretty sure that this is the wrong tactic.

16. Looks like freedom of speech only goes so far. . .

17. Why is John McCain the only Republican willing to stand up to conservative nutjobs? There’s gotta be more somewhere. . .

18. When a machete- and gun-wielding convicted killer gets better health care than his surviving victim, something is well and truly fucked up in this country.

19. Who’s really out to kill Grandma? It ain’t who you’d think.

20. “In recognition of your service to this country, we’re going to take away your child custody rights. Thank you!”

21. Welcome to Tennessee, where you can carry guns in bars, parks, and – wait a second, maybe not so much the parks.

22. “‘Round these here parts, you start wavin’ a picture of  Obama with a Hitler ‘stache, you can ‘spect a asswhuppin from an old Armenian man, and that’s how it should be.”

23. If you’re in a POW camp, Monopoly is a great, fun way to pass the time – or, you know, help you break out.

24. So, that high-tech phone you’ve got?  Chances are, if it gets stolen, its makers would rather force you to buy a new one than help you get it back.  The bastards.

25. Last but certainly not least, some sexual assault prevention tips that are guaranteed to work!

Whew!

VS – 09.22.09

LiveBlogging A Comic Book Convention

Posted in comic books, politics, randoma, war with tags , , on January 28, 2009 by vagabondsaint

Last Saturday, I worked for my friend G at a comic-book convention.  For some reason as yet unknown to me, possibly sleep-deprivation, I decided it would be interesting to live-blog the con.  Unfortunately, I had no internet access from there, so I did the next best thing:  I took notes.  Come join the fun!

8:30 – 10:00 AM – Setting up for the show.  Somehow G mishears my suggestion to bring Febreeze in case of stinky fanboys as a suggestion that we bring it for the crotch of a Buffy the Vampire Slayer statue.  The series of jokes resulting from said misunderstanding eventually lead to the concept of Schroedinger’s Crotch, i.e., all crotches are simultaneously stank and not stank, and there’s no way to know for sure which until it’s too late to back out gracefully.  (I suppose the female equivalent would be Schroedinger’s Penis, which is simultaneously perfect and woefully inadequate, with, again, no way of knowing for sure which it is until it’s too late to back out gracefully.)  Also, venue smells like a school cafeteria.  Further investigation reveals that the venue is, in fact, a school cafeteria.  Will be interesting to see if cafeteria smell overrides fanboy funk.

10 AM – Convention doors open to the public.  Remind myself to get something for daughter.  Remind myself to fight urge to get bunch of stuff for myself.

10:20 AM – Greatest non-“Schroedinger’s Crotch” line of the day thus far: “Let’s put the Iron Fist in the box.”  (It was a day for juvenile humour, okay?)

11:30 AM – Got a bunch of stuff for myself.

11:58 AM – Valuable lesson learned: do not eat Spicy Thai chips on an empty stomach.

12:15 PM – Noticed there has actually been a fair number of attractive women here.  Did they get lost on their way to someplace that attractive women go on Saturdays?

12:27 PM – Best out-of-context line: “It’s old and furry.”

1:15 PM – Sleeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeepy.

1:45 PM – Asked 7- or 8-year-old if they liked the Powerpuff Girls.  “I’m a boy!” the soft-voiced, long-haired child replied.  Then get a bloody haircut, hippie child, I thought.  Trust me, that kid looked like a girl.

1:58 PM – Second-best out-of-context quote:  “You gotta go with the big package.”

2:06 PM – Four hours in and no sign of an adult of ambiguous gender.  Starting to wonder if I was on my way to a comic-con and got lost in someplace cool.  (I maintain that that kid really looked like a girl.)

2:30 PM – Bought stuff for daughter and for ladylove.  Bought more stuff for self.

3:00 PM – Bored.  One hour left in convention; crowds dwindling and some vendors have already left.  Decided to start making shit up to finish blog.

3:10 PM – A large group of fanboys in long coats have thrown off their coats to reveal a number of cybernetic implants and chests that lack hair and resemble raw chicken breasts.  They declare that they are the D&D Bandits (Deadly & Dangerous) and they’ve come to loot the convention and sell everything on Ebay.  Due to their large number of apparently homemade implants, they are the first fanboys I’ve ever seen with a valid excuse for not showering.

3:12 PM – The D&D Bandits’ attempts to rip off the convention are interrupted by a group of very very attractive women in stiletto hells, fishnets, and PVC outfits that barely hold back large bosoms.  Wielding whips, nunchuks, paddles, and floggers, and calling themselves Hot-Ass Women Tired of Male Assholes and Makking Acceptable Slaves (HAWT MAMAS), they declare their intention to take every male in the building away to be sex slaves in their lair.  While nearly every other man in the room attempts to surrender to the, the remaining members of The D&D Bandits whose crotches did not explode in a shower of sparks at the sudden proximity of hot women attempt to fight the HAWT MAMAS away from their loot.

3:15 PM – As the two groups battle it out for the fate of the convention-goers, the GOP shows up and joins the fray, calling the Bandits “depraved barely-closeted homosexual freaks” and the MAMAS “uppity women who need to get back in the kitchen.”  In an amusing bit of irony, House Minority Whip Eric Cantor of Kentucky was whipped by a HAWT MAMA.  Later, Cantor would say to reporters that the experience “was not unlike talking with Dick Cheney.”

3:20 PM – SWAT team shows up.  Their first order of business is to destroy what little remains of the school, yelling words to the effect that if anyone is going to destroy Seattle, it’ll be Mayor Greg Nickels.

3:25 PM – The immense battle, now coverin several city blocks, is brought to a brief pause by the sudden appearance of Sarah Palin in a Supergirl costume.  Super-Palin, claiming she could “see the battle from her house in Alaska,” inadvertantly cripples the GOP combatants, whose crotches explode in a shower of sparks at the sudden proximity of her.

3:28 PM – John McCain arrives in a stealth bomber and immediately crashes into the last undamaged building in the neighbourhood.  Though he attempts to blame the crash on “liberal engine-making policies,” witnesses recount that the engine stalled when he tried to fly the plane at 20 miles an hour and had the left blinker on all the way up from Arizona.

3:30 PM – Superman, aided by fellow Krypton survivor Barack Obama, finally puts an end to the melee and repairs the neighbourhood at super-speed.  Most of the criminals/malefactors are taken to jail, though 3 of the HAWT MAMAS are missing and G insists on loading his SUV alone.

4:00 PM – The convention ends, and so does this blog.

VS – 01.27.09

A Simple Lesson

Posted in politics, the complete opposite of brilliance, war with tags , , , on January 12, 2009 by vagabondsaint

As some of the one of you that still reads this blog may know, I am something of a student of history.  It doesn’t particularly matter to me what history I’m studying; as long as it’s interesting, it’s worth my time.  That said, I do have a bit stronger of an interest in military history, armed conflicts being one of the few times at which the best and worst of humanity are on display at the same time, often side-by-side.

My studies of history, and especially military history, for the past 61 years have taught me a very valuable, yet almost obvious lesson, one that would improve the world if more people learned it.  The lesson is this:

DO NOT FUCK WITH ISRAEL.

Seriously, don’t fucking do it.

Remember the Six-Day War?  1967?  Jordan, Syria, and Egypt cut off Israel, threw out UN peacekeepers, and set out to take Tel Aviv, with the aid of troops and weapons from Iraq, Saudi Arabia, Sudan, Tunisia, Morocco and Algeria?  And it took Israel six days to not only beat the tar out of all of them and end the war with more territory than they started with (they took Sinai Peninsula, the Gaza Strip, the West Bank, East Jerusalem, and the Golan Heights)?  Yeah.  Don’t fuck with Israel, kids.

Since then, the Israelis have proven over and over again that if there’s anything they believe in, it’s excessive retaliation and pre-emptive strikes.  When the US says “we will wipe our enemies from the face of the earth,” we just mean we’re going to track you down and kill or incarcerate you.  When the Israelis say it, they mean that you will literally be removed from the face of the planet, and your carcass and homeland will either be bombed back to the Stone Age (literally; Israel has more than enough bombs and nuclear weapons to induce a warp in the space-time continuum) or launched into space.

Pretty simple lesson, right?

So why the fuck does Hamas seem not to learn it?

The current conflict in the Gaza Strip, between Israel and Hamas, is a very important lesson as to what can happen when someone goes fucking with Israel unneccesarily.  And Hamas. . .oh, don’t even get me started.

Too late.

Hamas, whose stated purpose is to re-take the land currently occupied by Israel and make it into a Palestinian state, was firing rockets at Israel.  That’s what got the whole thing started.  Even though Israeli casualties from the rocket attacks were low, they could not let it be perceived that they would not act to protect their people.  If that happened, people would lose faith in their government, there would be conflict and turmoil, and Israel would look weak.  Israel can’t now and can’t ever afford to look weak, surrounded as they are by people that hate them.  They can’t let anyone around them even begin to think about the chance that maybe it’s possibly okay to attack Israeli citizens, perhaps;  once they do, the attacks won’t stop until Israel is dead (not likely) or Israel is dead but used its nuclear weapons to turn the entire Middle East into a glass-paved parking lot before it fell(much more possible).

Not only did Hamas hit Israeli citizens with rockets, but they launched the rockets from civilan areas.  Come on now.  Is there anything in the world more cowardly than that?  Using the people you claim to be acting in support of as human shields against the retaliation you’ve rightfully earned?  the general idea was that Israel would not launch military attacks in civilian areas, so Hamas has hidden weapons and soliders and other war tools in civilian areas in order to keep the Israeli military from coming in and taking them, because civilian casualties are a certainty in the event of military action.

You know, three years ago, Israel gave up its occupation of the Gaza Strip.  they’re eased restrictions and sanctions against other Palestinian territories.  The cease-fire that Hamas broke with its rocket attacks expired months before Israel launched its attacks; Hamas barely waited a month after the end of thatcease-fire to start attacking again.  Israel was doing what it needed to, what had to be done,  to achieve peace in that area, for them and for the Palestinians.  Hamas brought this not only upon itself, but among the Palestinians that supported them in these attacks. . .and upon the innocent Palestinians who could have cared less about centuries-old religious/political/anto-Semitic conflicts and just wanted to get on with their lives.

If you can’t tell, it kind of pisses me off when I hear people being down on Israel for the civilian casualties.  Israel did what it could; they even called and sent text messages to Palestinians, telling them when attacks were going to happen so that they could get out of the way in time.

If you want to be upset at someone for the civilian casualties, be mad at Hamas.  They attacked Israel and hid among civilians (their leaders, who called for  and planned the attacks, all went into deep hiding the moment Israel’s air force took off), so there is no one to blame for the deaths and destruction but Hamas.

Sometimes a cowardly terrorist is really a brave freedom fighter. . .but sometimes, a cowardly terrorist is just a cowardly terrorist.

VS – 1.12.09

The Best of Times, The Worst Of Times

Posted in politics, war with tags , , , , , , , on November 23, 2008 by vagabondsaint

I’ve been absent from the blog for a while.  A new job that I love has had me adjusting my body clocks in ways that nature probably never intended – but I love the job, so I had to vut back on some other obligations to make more time for my own projects, including this blog.  That’s all done now, though, and I’m back and still alive, and living in a transforming America.

The curious thing about the America-to-come is that it seems to be bringing out, simultaneously, the best and the worst of America.

For example, consider this essay, published in the Mat-Su Valley Frontiersman (the newspaper of Wasilia, Alaska), written by Waverli Rainey, a 16-year-old high school student, which probably earned her all kinds of new friends in the Lower 48 but none in the Alaska governor’s office.  (Who is the governor of Alaska, anyway?  I forgot.)  In it, she talks about the racist reactions of the people around her after Barack Obama’s victory, and in talking about how the worst of America proudly displayed itself at her school, she shows the best of America in her words:

Angered, I began to think of the injustice of it all and the ignorance of the students I was surrounded by. I wondered where they learned to be so hateful, and I wondered why the teacher never stepped in – why no adult, no student, including myself, had the guts to cut in and say it was not OK. Because it’s never OK for intolerance. It is never OK to cut someone down and dehumanize them because they do not look like you, or think like you, or talk like you, or worship the way you do.

That’s a major what America is about, isn’t it?  Realizing the concept of freedom and equality for all?  This young lady stated this more eloquently than just about anyone I’ve ever seen, and displays in her attitude and pronouncements against ignorance and hatred what is truly the best side of the American people.

And yet.

Across the nation, there has been a sharp increase in gun sales since Obama’s election.  Across the nation, according to an article in the Christian Science Monitor, hate crimes have increased greatly and white supremacist groups are recruiting fervently; I think they’re seizing upon the fear and intolerance and angered stirred up by John McFail’s disgraceful campaign tactics of division, and the inherent prejudice against a non-white, non-elderly man soon to be sitting in the Oval Office.

It has been said that Obama’s election proves that Americans are truly moderate and want change and progress from the socio-political quagmire that has engulfed us for many years.  But the negative backlash shows that some Americans, in this new millenium, would greatly prefer to cling to the ignorance, violence, prejudice, and fear that cost that have dragged this country down the tubes for far, far too long.  The victory that emboldened those of us who truly love our country and yearned to see America become great again also gave strength to our opposites, who only truly love themselves and live in fear of losing their own greatness (whether or not such greatness actually exists).

Wouldn’t it be nice if we just ignored these people?  If the media didn’t cover Klan rallies or give airtime to their new fliers and recruitment efforts?  If, in covering hate crimes, the press would not mention the names of the perpetrators nor seek interviews with them, therefore denying them even 1 of their proverbially-alloted 15 minutes of fame?  If we all simply stopped talking to or even noting the existence of people who proudly cling to their intolerance and closed-mindedness?

Ignoring the ignorant. . .I have to admit, I like the concept.  Might not work so well in practice, though.

This election truly brought out the best and worst of America. . .but, as I’ve said before, the fight isn’t over.  It’s hardly even started.

VS – 11.23.08

P.S. Yes, I know I have completely ignored the worsening economy, Obama’s cabinet picks, Iraq, Afghanistan, and the latest silliness of The Woman From Wasilia.  One thing at a time, kids.

The End Of The Beginning

Posted in economics, politics, war with tags , , , , , , , , on November 9, 2008 by vagabondsaint

Over past few days, I have seen, both online and in my physical-world travels, various signs, buttons, images, and advertisements all proclaiming the same thing:  “YES WE DID!”

To the people who put those up, I want to say something:  don’t break your arm patting yourself on the back.  The real fight has only just started.

Barack Obama is our President-elect now.  This is beyond good; this is a change in America unlike anything ever seen before.  Don;t get me wrong; I’m over the moon about Obama’s victory.  I just don’t see it as the end of the many, many problems facing America today, and I’m not going to sit back and say “I voted for Obama, I did my part, it’s all up to him now.”  It, by which I mean making this country a better place, is and always has been up to us. . .or should I say “we,” as in, “We, the people.”

And, as always, there are people opposed to the changes that we, the people, spoke out and voted for, in record numbers, last Tuesday.

Let’s not forget that there is stll someone else in the White House, and he’s got two months to finish fucking up America and making it such a huge mess that it will be difficult for the next President to fix things, let alone to know where to start.

What’s Bush been up to while we were all busy watching the election and lost in celebrations afterwards?  Well, he’s reduced the number of outpatient services that will be covered under Medicare, meaning more poor people will be unable to get medical attention, plus hospitals that depend on Medicare will suffer budget shortfalls.  The Bureau of Land Management has announced that it will soon began selling leases to drill for oil. . .in Utah, where the expected amount of oil to be found is barely enough to justify the expense of drilling, but the damage to surrounding parks and natural wonders will be incalculable.  His office has spoken out against the European hope of creating a new international financial regulator, choosing instead to seek better enforcement of current regulations (how have those been working out so far, by the way?).  They’ve launced new attacks on wolves in Yellowstone National Park, according to the Defenders Of Wildlife.  All that, in addition to numerous other offense against civil liberties, the environment, and abortion rights.

So, while you’ve been celebrating, they’ve been quite busy, without having to worry about media scrutiny.

That’s enough to worry about, to me.  But there is, of course, more.

John McCain lost the election, decisively and with no way to claim he was cheated or that the election was stolen.  He’s not a threat anymore.  But his campaign. . .see, in the name of winning at any costs, the McCain campaign, in its final weeks, turned to three things that usually work for the GOP:  stirring up fear, anger, and prejudice against their opponents, promoting an “us against them” mentality and using the tactics of division to propel themselves to victory.

Obviously, that didn’t work this time.

But, once awakened, that three-headed beast of fear, anger, and prejudice doesn’t go back to sleep just because someone lost.  Already, a cross has been burned on the yard of an Obama supporter (in New Jersey, of all places).  The KKK’s national director, Thomas Robb, states that he sees Obama’s election as a great recruitment tool for the struggling Klan, as a reminder that whites “have lost power in this country.”  Given the negative emotions that Mr. McCain’s absolutely disgraceful campaign stirred up (if you watched his concession speech, look at the audience and at the anger they feel. . .that emotion has to go somewhere, after all, and the Thomas Robbs of the world will be waiting to turn that anger towards their own purposes), Mr. Robb may be correct in that his recruitment will increase, but I think it will be just as due to McCain’s negative campaigning as it will Obama’s actual victory.  (Interestingly enough, Robb points out in that interview that Obama is half-black, something that everyone else seems to forget.  Are Thomas Robb and I the only people that want to give credit and recognition to Obama’s entire heritage?  That’s scary.)

So, in addition to all the problems we had before, Bush is using this time to make new ones, and America may have new enemies inside its own borders now, thanks to strongly negative campaigning by the GOP.

YES WE DID get Barack Obama elected.  But NO WE DIDN’T instantly fix America.  That’s going to take a lot of time, thinking, sacrifice, and work on the part of all Americans, not just our new President-Elect and his cabinet.

I can not help but recall the words of Winston Churchill after the defeat of the Germans in North Africa in 1942, a major turning point of World War II:

Now, this is not the end. It is not even the beginning of the end. But it is, perhaps, the end of the beginning.

For all those that seek change, our war is just beginning, too.

VS – 11.9.08

Prisoners Of McCain

Posted in media failure, politics, war with tags , , , , , on September 22, 2008 by vagabondsaint

You know, it would be really funny if Senator John “I Was A POW So I’m Fit To Be President” McCain turned out to be the most pivotal member of a Senate committee that suppressed information about POWS still living in Hanoi as late as 1990, wouldn’t it?

Oh, you know what would make that even funnier? If McCain had sought, in 1990, to defeat a bill that would have required complete transparency from the government and the release of all previously-classified information related to POWS still held in Vietnam?  Oh, that would be hilarious!

But. . .what would make it an absolute scream is if McCain had introduced, written, and sponsored legislation in 1991 that made sure that POW secrets would be kept classified, including all information that could have helped families trying to track down POWs?  And then crippled 1995’s Missing Service Persons Act by removing any criminal penalties for those who knowingly withheld or suppressed information about POWs?  OMG, TOO FKN FUNNY! Right?

If, as Puliter Prize-winning journalist Sydney Schanberg alleges in this article, John “POW” McCain did indeed participate in the cover-up of information about POWs still being held in Hanoi, then he’s worse as a person than I could have ever believed.  Never mind being unfit for the Presidency; he’s not fit to wear a military uniform or give any claim to compassion for his fellow servicemen, if this turns out to be true. Seriously, go read this article.  Right now.  I’ll wait. (Click here to read about a 1997 attempt to restore the gutted portions of the Missing Service Persons Act.)

I was wrong.  It’s not funny.  It’s sad, tragic, and incredibly treacherous.  That’s what happened to our still-missing POWs: they were shoved under a redacted rug by one of their own.

Where is the mainstream media on this?

ABC, to their credit, was busy beating up McCain on This Week With George Stephanopolous. Fox News also got into the “Take A Shot At An Old Man” contest, giving an unbelievable critique of John “I Got Out; I’m Good, Thanks” McCain.

Our POWs deserved better than this.

And all of us – MIA, POW, veterans, civilians, smartarsed bloggers, just plain Americans – deserve better than John McCain.

VS – 09.22.08