|Except for mourning family members and Boy Scouts loyally placing tiny flags on veterans’ gravestones, hardly anyone knows anything about Memorial Day except that it’s a day off. It’s the saddest of the military holidays, invented after the Civil War, supposed to help us honor, or at least pause to remember, all the American dead from all our wars. That’s a lot of men and some women to remember going back, well, how far?
Big and small, we’ve “done” about 70 wars starting with the mid-18th century so-called French and Indian wars where George Washington was blooded and when we got our first taste of industrially massacring Native Americans, mainly Ojibwas and Algonquins who sided with the French against our British masters.
Before penicillin, it’s hard to get an accurate sum total figure of all those combat deaths because so many men died of disease and what was later called shell shock.
In our thirteen major and 60 or so “minor” wars, let’s call a round figure of one and a half million dead. Compared to the mass war slaughter in, say, Russia or China, that’s small potatoes, but big potatoes for us. Our dead include wars you never heard, such the “Quasi War” with the French, the First Sumatran Expedition and Sheepeater Indian War plus, of course, both World Wars, Korea, Vietnam and Iraq and Afghanistan. A large number of U.S. wars were fought against our own Native Americans (Modocs, Nez Perce, serial Seminole wars etc.) and other “colored” peoples in China, the Philippines, Haiti, central America, Mexico etc.
This doesn’t and shouldn’t take away from the genuine valor of so many American soldiers who fought, died, massacred others and were scalped in return.
Sadly or inspiringly, the truth is men and now women sometimes like to go to war. To do one’s patriotic duty can be exciting as well as deadly. You get a sense of purpose and usefulness, possibly your own worth by being in uniform. Personally, I liked being in the military including its chickenshit.
It’s also thrilling to watch war movies. To “celebrate” Memorial Day, Turner Classics on TV is throwing shot and shell at us for a solid four-day, 72-hour marathon starting Saturday. The lineup includes 34 “classics” from the Civil War on. Unless my eyes deceive me Turner is not showing, or avoiding, some fine anti-pro-war films, Renoir’s Grand Illusion and Kubrick’s Paths of Glory as well as All Quiet On The Western Front and Howard Hawks's The Road To Glory (co-written by William Faulkner). Turner’s bias is toward blood-and-guts “combat” stories, comedies and “touching stories of the families who wait at home”.
In the midst of all the testosterone-laden, gut-wrenching 'kill, kill, kill' is some real quality that fails in the mission of sending men off to war. If you can make your way past The Dirty Dozen and Kelly’s Heroes, there’s The Best Years of Our Lives, the Quaker-friendly Friendly Persuasion, Sidney Lumet’s brilliant exposure of military sadism in The Hill, the German-made Westfront 19l8, and John Huston’s butchered but decent The Red Badge of Courage.
Missing, thank heaven, are Ronald Reagan’s favorite Patton and Katherine Bigelow’s “ballsy” recruiting poster The Hurt Locker. But I’m sorry we won’t see Clint Eastwood’s Letters From Iwo Jima, a surprise masterpiece telling the battle from a Japanese point of view.
What’s not to love about war movies? Vivid images of men shooting the crap out of each other heats my blood. The gore of “this is how it is” is ultimately romantic and seductive. Most war movies can’t help but call us to arms. Rat tat tat to Black Watch bagpipe music. [...]
Blast from the Past. At Daily Kos on this date in 2011Wisconsin GOP could simply re-pass law, but recall elections causing delay:
|As Jed already noted, a county judge has issued a permanent injunction against the Wisconsin law stripping public workers of collective bargaining rights. The state Supreme Court is set to hear arguments on the matter on Monday, June 6.
Still, as long as they would give 24 hours notice, Wisconsin Republicans could simply pass the bill through the state legislature again. They have plenty of time to do so before the July 12 recall elections.
However, don't count on Wisconsin Republicans taking this path unless they are absolutely forced to do so by the state Supreme Court. This is because they would like to avoid casting another vote that would anger the most important swing voters in Wisconsin—union households who supported them in 2010. [...]
Since union households account for almost the entire swing in Wisconsin public opinion, re-passing a union-busting bill right before the election elections would be harmful to Republican chances. That's the real reason why Wisconsin Republicans are waiting on the courts to enact the law for them.
On today's rerun of the Kagro in the Morning show, it's our May 23, 2013 episode. Greg Dworkin on the lingering controversies and the variations in polling on the AP story. Also: the strange case of Josh Barro. On the IRS, Republicans now insist the President knew all about it, and if he didn't, that's evidence of a cover-up, too. Make your own untraceable AK-47 at a "build party." McCain looks to defuse a "nuclear option" showdown. Lamar! pretends not to see the difference between the ACA & Iran-Contra. A shocking chart on the shift in sources of federal revenues. "Why Private Schools Are Dying Out." When it comes to income inequality, the Medicis were pikers!