American Sniper – War and Politics

 Featured, Politics, War  Comments Off on American Sniper – War and Politics
Feb 162015
 

american-sniper-poster-internationalThe recent movie, American Sniper, based on the autobiography of Chris Kyle, has sparked heated discussion. I’ve previously reviewed the movie, but in this post, I’d like to take on some of the politics, praise, and condemnation that’s been the result of the movie.

First, I’d like to take on Michael Moore’s comment about Chris Kyle and snipers being cowards. I’m a fan of Moore’s, but this was just stupid. Being a sniper is dangerous, grueling, and likely soul-sapping. Just like everyone in the military, they are trained for, and doing the job they were assigned, in effect, by our civilian leadership. Chris Kyle was, apparently, extremely good at his job, and that does not make him a coward. Did he take some pleasure in the killing or Iraqi’s? I don’t know, as I didn’t live in his head, but his book did seem to offer the perspective that he felt he was doing “God’s work.” Of that I’m not so sure.

In this country, we’ve come to glorify war. We can’t have a sporting event without a military honor guard and maybe a flyover. We watch precision bombing footage on the evening news, and hear about drone strikes taking out terrorist operatives. So we come to think we’re always right, the other side is wrong, and everything we do is blessed. Taint so. War truly is hell. The towns and cities in which is fought are destroyed, economies are wrecked, and innocent people, including children, suffer and die. We need to know and understand that, and we need to know that we wreck much of the havoc when we start wars. Continue reading »

Men Who Stare at Goats, The – A Movie Review

 Culture, Fun Stuff, Movies  Comments Off on Men Who Stare at Goats, The – A Movie Review
Nov 132009
 

Men Who Stare at GoatsReporter Bob Wilton is in search of his next big story when he encounters Lyn Cassady, a shadowy figure who claims to be part of an experimental U.S. military unit. According to Cassady, the New Earth Army is changing the way wars are fought. A legion of “Warrior Monks” with unparalleled psychic powers can read the enemy’s thoughts, pass through solid walls, and even kill a goat simply by staring at it. Now, the program’s founder, Bill Django, has gone missing and Cassady’s mission is to find him. Intrigued by his new acquaintance’s far-fetched stories, Bob impulsively decides to tag along. When the pair tracks Django to a clandestine training camp run by renegade psychic Larry Hooper, the reporter is trapped in the middle of a grudge match between the forces of Django’s New Earth Army and Hooper’s personal militia of super soldiers. In order to survive this wild adventure, Bob will have to outwit an enemy he never thought possible.

Genres: Comedy, Thriller, Adaptation and War; Running Time: 1 hr. 33 min.; Release Date: November 6th, 2009 (limited); MPAA Rating: R for language, some drug content and brief nudity.

Cast: George Clooney, Ewan McGregor, Kevin Spacey, Jeff Bridges, Rebecca Mader, Stephen Lang and Robert Patrick

Directed by: Grant Heslov

Lay and I went to see this last weekend. The movie is supposed to be based on fact (from Jon Ronson’s book) but the concept is so silly that director Grant Heslov and George Clooney  really can’t help but make fun of it, and there are some good laughs here. Just no real story.

Ewan McGregor plays journalist Bob Wilton, a jilted husband who goes to find a big journalistic adventure to provide his masculinity to his backstabbing wife. But he winds up stuck in Kuwait waiting to get into Iraq. One night he meets Lyn Cassidy (George Clooney), a familiar name to him from a previous interview he did years before about psychic-spies. Lyn was the best in what was called the “New Earth Army”, started by Vietnam-Vet Bill Django (Jeff Bridges) in the 80’s to create soldiers with super-powers who could prevent conflict. The Army was later dismantled and used for evil purposes by the movie’s antagonist Hooper (Kevin Spacey) but Lyn tells Bob he’s been re-activated, and has a secret mission to do in Iraq. Bob, thinking Lyn crazy but interesting at the same time, decides to ride along with him and go where the action is. Along the way, Lyn tells him stories of others dubbed, “Jedi Warriors.”

Most of the movie is flashbacks, beginning with Iraq War 2003 and chronicling all the way back to the beginning of New Age warfare. There are weird and crazy laughs. The lines are good too. “We tried invisibility but then worked it down to just not being seen”, Lyn tells Bob during on of their discussions. Clooney is perfectly eccentric as a guy who lives by the mindfulness-over-warfare principal and McGregor is a whiny, but solid straight-man. Bridges is also terrific as this free-spirited hippie. Only the laughs and flashbacks (which feel like a series of sketches) aren’t enough to distract from the fact that “Goats” really has no compelling narrative. The forward-moving story in Iraq 2003 has very little momentum. Spacey appears later on again as the villain but the conflict is weak and the movie has more than over-stayed its welcome.

All-in-all, it’s probably worth seeing, but I’d wait to rent the DVD.

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The Anthrax Questions

 Congress, Crime, Politics, Presidency, Society, War  Comments Off on The Anthrax Questions
Aug 032008
 

Glenn Greenwald has an excellent article up at Salon.com discussing the unresolved issues around the 2001 anthrax incident. As everyone knows Bruce Ivins committed suicide earlier this week as a Grand Jury prepared to indict him in connection with the anthrax incident. Ivins had been a top anthrax researcher at a U.S. Government research facility for 18 years. So seven years after the incident, and after having to pay a settlement to one falsely accused researcher, we’re to believe the government had an airtight case against Ivins witnessed by his apparent suicide.

I’m sorry that the current government has brought me to the point that I can rarely believe the official version of events, but I am not buying that this is the end of the story.

Greenwald makes an excellent point about the importance of the anthrax attacks.

One could make a persuasive case that they were actually more consequential. The 9/11 attacks were obviously traumatic for the country, but in the absence of the anthrax attacks, 9/11 could easily have been perceived as a single, isolated event. It was really the anthrax letters — with the first one sent on September 18, just one week after 9/11 — that severely ratcheted up the fear levels and created the climate that would dominate in this country for the next several years after. It was anthrax — sent directly into the heart of the country’s elite political and media institutions, to then-Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle (D-SD), Sen. Pat Leahy (D-VT), NBC News anchor Tom Brokaw, and other leading media outlets — that created the impression that social order itself was genuinely threatened by Islamic radicalism.

I have to agree with Greenwald that it was the anthrax letters that really cemented the whole idea that we were under siege right in heartland. This pushed it over the top for Americans, and began laying the groundwork for going into Iraq.

There are just way too many coincidences that played out in the wake of these attacks for me to believe that our friend Dick Cheney didn’t have something to do with hammering home the need for us to attack Iraq. I won’t get into a discussion of the official story of the 9/11 attacks here, but you have to remember that New York is viewed by most of America as a unique place. Certainly it would be a target, as would Washington. However, anthrax, sent in the mail, could go just anywhere…millions could be exposed for the cost of small mass mailing. Most Americans, while appalled, disgusted, and saddened to our core by the 9/11 attacks quickly began to feel like it was an isolated attack on high value targets, and most of us don’t live near high value targets. The attacks had to continue, and they had to strike at home.    

Continue reading »

Two Inauspicious Anniversaries Today

 Congress, Politics, Presidency  Comments Off on Two Inauspicious Anniversaries Today
Jan 112008
 

Orange really isn’t my color, but I did find one orange and white stripped shirt in my closet to wear today. So why would it be important to wear orange today? January 11 six years ago was the first day prisoners arrived at Guantanamo Bay, beginning what will go down in history as one of America’s darkest times. To help call for an end to the use of places like Guantanamo, the American Civil Liberties Union has asked everyone to wear orange today (you know, like prison jump suit orange) to acknowledge the existence of such places.

Fortunately, legislation has been introduced in Congress that would close the detention facility and restore due process rights to those being held at Guantanamo. Senator Tom Harkin (D-IA) introduced S. 1469, the Guantanamo Bay Detention Facility Closure Act of 2007. The bill requires the president to close the facility within 120 days of enactment – during which time detainees would be charged and sent to either the United States Disciplinary Barracks at Ft. Leavenworth, KS, or transferred to another country that will not torture or abuse them.

I would ask you to take a few minutes and write a letter to your Congressional Representatives and encourage to sign on in support of S. 1469.

It was January 10 last year that King George announced his plans for the troop surge in Iraq. Republican candidates, turncoat Joe Lieberman, and all the Fox News pundits are proclaiming the surge a success because violence is down somewhat in Iraq. Certainly it is true that violence is down, but it does not make the surge a success.

As I reviewed George’s speech (he so doesn’t represent me that I refuse to refer to him as President…he does not deserve to be included in the ranks of the men that have that moniker), I realized the purpose of the surge was to reduce violence so that the Iraqi government could make progress on the many political issues facing the country. It was to provide an atmosphere in which the Iraqi government would agree on issues including oil revenue sharing, de-Baathification, federalism, and more. There has been absolutely no progress within the Iraqi government on these issues during the past year.

I’m glad violence is down, but we are no closer to being able to reduce troop levels (and expenditures) than we were a year ago, and the current situation is unsustainable.

Sep 112007
 

I suppose no blogger can let 9/11 pass without a post reflecting on what it all means. Unfortunately, the Bu$hCo Administration has done everything they can to tie the events of this day to Iraq. They have gone so far as to ensure that the Petraeus report is delivered to Congress so as to coincide with the observance of this anniversary.

The attacks of 9/11 were used to justify the invasion of Iraq, and ever since, Bu$h has been using the mantra to strike fear into the hearts of Americans and ensure continued support of his war. He and Dick have incessantly linked the words “al-Qaida” and “Iraq.” In a  recent speech about Iraq, Bush mentioned al-Qaida 95 times. No matter that the insurgents in Iraq are not the same group that attacked the U.S.

We all knew what Petraeus was going to say before he said it. He was going to spend most of his time talking about how great things are in Anbar…again, never mind things were getting better there long before the “surge” started. We need also to remember that progress has been made there only by striking another “deal with the devil,” Saddam’s Fedayeen. Bush arrogantly attempts to play the alpha dog Commander and Chief with his, “we’re kicking ass,” comment.

 Everyone in America who gets any outside input beyond Faux News knows the real situation on the ground in Iraq. Read some of the blogs of the soldiers that are there. So just forget the absurd debate about progress. The questions to be asked are much more basic–Why can’t we bring ourselves to end the debacle, and why did we invade Iraq in the first place?

Congress cannot bring themselves to end the Iraq war because they haven’t yet grown the backbone to question the basic assumptions on which Bu$h’s “War On Terror” is based. To this Administration, 9/11 justifies everything and ends all arguments. As Gary Kamiya wrote at Salon.com:

Bush’s reaction to 9/11 was to declare a “war on terror,” of which the Iraq adventure was said to be the “front line.” The American establishment signed off on this war because of 9/11. To oppose Bush’s “war on terror” was to risk another terror attack and dishonor our dead. The establishment has now turned against the Iraq front, but it has not questioned the “war on terror” itself, or the assumptions on which it is based.

We chose this go-it-alone vigilantism over reason and justice. We responded from our biological instincts –“fight or flight” – we were hit, so we had to hit back. We responded like a drunk in a bar fight, and combined with our preconceived notions about the Arab/Muslim world, we ran up against our prejudices. The problem is we allowed Bu$hCo to convince us that instead of taking vengeance on the people that attacked us, we should attack the guy standing on the corner watching. It’s a male thing. On the school yard its called “bullying,” and for conservatives it appears to be a necessary reaction. Hence their bully-ish name calling of war critics as “wimps, girly-men and appeasers.”          Continue reading »

Jul 132007
 

We’re pumping billions into the new Homeland Insecurity Department, yet it appears we’re relying on DHS Secretary Micheal Chertoff’s gastric rumblings for our intellingence. Suddenly he’s appearing on the news circuit saying he has a gut feeling, we’re going to be attacked again.

Now why would he get that feeling. Do you suppose it could have anything to do with the recent report that Al Qaeda is getting stronger? Now what’s up with that. I thought Bush was saying we were winning the war on terror in Iraq, and that we were fighting them over there so we wouldn’t have to fight them over here?

Anyone who still believes in this guy, please take him and move to your own private island.

Apr 302007
 

The head of the British army says he has personally decided Prince Harry will go to Iraq.

Gen. Sir Richard Dannatt told BBC News the decision will be kept under review, but says he hopes his statement will end media speculation on Harry’s deployment.

The 22-year-old Prince’s regiment, the Blues and Royals, is due to begin a six-month tour of duty in Iraq within weeks. British commanders had reportedly been reconsidering their decision to allow the prince to fight in Iraq.[..]

Meanwhile, the Guardian newspaper is reporting that Shiite militants have set up a special squad targeting Harry should he be posted to Iraq.

The British newspaper quoted a commander in the Mahdi Army – the militia loyal to radical Shiite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr – as saying the group had informants inside British army bases who would tip them off about Harry’s presence.

So here’s a British Royal ready to serve, while Bush’s daughters are off tearing up the town during spring break.

Apr 212007
 

An excerpt from Iacocca’s new book – read the entire excerpt:

Am I the only guy in this country who’s fed up with what’s happening? Where the hell is our outrage? We should be screaming bloody murder. We’ve got a gang of clueless bozos steering our ship of state right over a cliff, we’ve got corporate gangsters stealing us blind, and we can’t even clean up after a hurricane much less build a hybrid car. But instead of getting mad, everyone sits around and nods their heads when the politicians say, “Stay the course.”

Stay the course? You’ve got to be kidding. This is America, not the damned Titanic. I’ll give you a sound bite: Throw the bums out!

You might think I’m getting senile, that I’ve gone off my rocker, and maybe I have. But someone has to speak up. I hardly recognize this country anymore. The President of the United States is given a free pass to ignore the Constitution, tap our phones, and lead us to war on a pack of lies. Congress responds to record deficits by passing a huge tax cut for the wealthy (thanks, but I don’t need it). The most famous business leaders are not the innovators but the guys in handcuffs. While we’re fiddling in Iraq, the Middle East is burning and nobody seems to know what to do. And the press is waving pom-poms instead of asking hard questions. That’s not the promise of America my parents and yours traveled across the ocean for. I’ve had enough. How about you?

I’ll go a step further. You can’t call yourself a patriot if you’re not outraged. This is a fight I’m ready and willing to have….

Why are we in this mess? How did we end up with this crowd in Washington? Well, we voted for them-or at least some of us did. But I’ll tell you what we didn’t do. We didn’t agree to suspend the Constitution. We didn’t agree to stop asking questions or demanding answers. Some of us are sick and tired of people who call free speech treason. Where I come from that’s a dictatorship, not a democracy….        Continue reading »

Vermont: Leading the World in Sanity

 Constitution, Legislature, Politics, The Courts, War  Comments Off on Vermont: Leading the World in Sanity
Apr 212007
 

Yes, it would seem that the good people of Vermont probably have the most intelligence. They’ve seen through the bull shit and their state senate voted 16-9 without debate to impeach Bush and Cheney.

The resolution says Bush and Cheney’s actions in the U.S. and abroad, including in Iraq, “raise serious questions of constitutionality, statutory legality, and abuse of the public trust.” Vermont lawmakers earlier voted to demand an immediate troop withdrawal from Iraq in another non-binding resolution.

There is at least one weenie in Vermont state government. Democratic House Speaker Gaye Symington has kept a similar resolution from reaching the floor in her chamber. She argued that an impeachment resolution would be partisan and divisive and that it would distract Washington from efforts to get the United States out of Iraq, which she says is more important.

Forty towns voted in favor of similar nonbinding impeachment resolutions at their annual town meetings in March. State lawmakers in Wisconsin and Washington have pushed for similar resolutions. Let’s hope it’s the beginning of grassroots movement.

Thoughts on The Surge

 Congress, Constitution, Election, Politics, Presidency, War  Comments Off on Thoughts on The Surge
Jan 152007
 

I suppose you have noticed a definite lack of posting here at Deep Sand over the past several weeks. Between the holidays and some busy and stressful times with work, I just haven’t been motivated to post lately. I hope to be getting back on a more regular schedule of posting now.

I guess the biggest story going on now is the President’s “surge” strategy for Iraq, and their obvious attempts to generate a confrontation iwth Iran. While I have always felt that George and Dick were stupid and dangerous, I have refrained from calling for an impeachment. However, it is clearly time to set loose the dogs. In the past several months more domestic surveilance by the CIA and the Defense Department has come to light. Bush has started to fire Federal Prosecutors who are investigating Republican congressman.

Now he’s forcing out the Military officers that oppose his troop surge. In addition, he’s even ignoring the neo-cons. The neo-con plan called for 30 to 50 thousand additional troops. Bush is only sending in 20 thousand. All the polls indicate that as many as 60% of Americans are opposed to the escalation. Cheney and Bush have made a number of comments recently that those who oppose the escalation are wrong. Unfortunately, it is just the other way around. America is by and for the people…not the decider. So if the vast majority of Americans oppose the “surge,” then it is this Administration that is wrong.

Before we went into this disasterous war, Collen Powell had said it best when he had warned that, “if we break it…we own it.” It’s true, and I’m not sure I believe we can just say it’s an internal Iraq problem, and pack up and leave. I don’t have the answer, but I am inclined to place the most faith in the military officers who are on the ground in Iraq, and they all initially opposed any escalation. I do know it is obvious that the current strategy isn’t working, and merely increasing the number of troops is just an escalation of the current strategy.

I think, given that it is Martin Luther King Day, it’s appropriate to visit the vast wealth of insightful thoughts left to us as part of his legacy. Speaking on the war in Vietnam, Dr.King said:

At this point I should make it clear that while I have tried in these last few minutes to give a voice to the voiceless in Vietnam and to understand the arguments of those who are called “enemy,” I am as deeply concerned about our own troops there as anything else. For it occurs to me that what we are submitting them to in Vietnam is not simply the brutalizing process that goes on in any war where armies face each other and seek to destroy. We are adding cynicism to the process of death, for they must know after a short period there that none of the things we claim to be fighting for are really involved. Before long they must know that their government has sent them into a struggle among Vietnamese, and the more sophisticated surely realize that we are on the side of the wealthy, and the secure, while we create a hell for the poor.

Somehow this madness must cease. We must stop now. I speak as a child of God and brother to the suffering poor of Vietnam. I speak for those whose land is being laid waste, whose homes are being destroyed, whose culture is being subverted. I speak for the poor of America who are paying the double price of smashed hopes at home, and death and corruption in Vietnam. I speak as a citizen of the world, for the world as it stands aghast at the path we have taken. I speak as one who loves America, to the leaders of our own nation: The great initiative in this war is ours; the initiative to stop it must be ours.

As is so often the case, when we ignore history, we will repeat it. This Administration is not merely out of touch with reality, but is out of control. THey are regularly engaging in unconstitutional activity, illegal surveillance,and are clearly ignoring the law of the land.

For the sake of the Republic, we have to put a stop to this now. I’m not sure what form it will take, but I foresee a major and important Constitution showdown in 2007.

Christmas at Peace Takes Courage

 Politics, Religion, War  Comments Off on Christmas at Peace Takes Courage
Dec 242006
 

From Ava at Peace Takes Courage.

It’s one week before Christmas. 2,948 American families will be missing a family member this Christmas due to this immoral war in Iraq. According to a recent study it is estimated that around 650,000 Iraqis have also died since the war begin. This Christmas we need to all take time out of our busy holiday schedules to think about those who have been killed in the Iraq war. It is up to us to make sure that this coming year brings many changes to help get our country back on track. Christmas celebrates the birth of Jesus Christ – who taught love, compassion, understanding, and most of all PEACE. Let this holiday remind us that peace is a possible goal and that we have much work to do in order to achieve it.

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