TALK TO THE DADDY
Hello. Come on in. The daddy writes about current events, literature, music and, once in a while, drops something on you from back in the day to make you pause and ponder, stop and stare, and begin to wonder. Who knows? You may start to pace the floor, shake your head from side to side, then fall down on bended knees in a praying position and cry, "Lawd, have mercy! What is this world coming to?" Check yourself! But this blog is NOT about the daddy. It's about you: your boos, your fam, your hood, your country...our hopes and dreams of a better tomorrow. So let's make a pact: the daddy will put it on the track if you'll chase it down and hit him back. Together, we can definitely take it to another level. Shall we?"
Wednesday, September 30, 2009
"Blues means what milk does to a baby. Blues is what the spirit is to the minister. We sing the blues because our hearts have been hurt, our souls have been disturbed." --Alberta Hunter
Listen up. In my younger days when I was hanging around college campuses entertaining the illusion I was really getting something out of studying economists like Milton Friedman and psychologists like
Freud and Horney, I spent a lot of time with music students. They were studying classical music at the University of Minnesota and other schools in and around the twin cities.
And I began to figure out a pattern: that whereas they could talk all evening about classical music, they knew next to nothing about blues and jazz, America's two great gifts to the rest of the world, in my opinion. So The Daddy got to asking questions about the lack of a jazz programs as a part of the musical schools around the city and why nobody talks about jazz, blues or gospel. Their basic answer was a shrug saying that's the way it has been for a long time or something to that effect.
So The Daddy went into a basement bar, had a few cold ones, and pondered all the lost opportunities for these music students to know some great American music and musicians. And he wrote this poem, Can you sing the blues? Do you own your dues?
Can you sing the blues?
Do you own your dues?
by Mac Walton
I've eyed you,
chubby-faced and knock-kneed
pulling up weeds in your back-yard
I've lauded you,
white dress rustling above
lily-white thighs, skipping through
a misty, white rain.
Then you felt no pain.
I’ve asked you,
bent fingers sliding across
Mozart, Paulenc and European
A Shubert Sonata
could charm a snake, tis true.
But first and forever--
can you sing the blues?
Do you own your dues?
Sunday, September 27, 2009
--Wayne Pacelle, President and CEO of The Humane Society
Listen up. Today is the day that former dogfighting sponsor but now Philadelphia Eagles quarterback is able to play professional football in two years. Yes, he did his two years. Yes, it was a good thing for the Eagles to work with NFL head Goodell to give Vick a second chance. Yes, he is working with the Humane Society and talking to young kids using himself as a cautionary tale against dogfighting. Yes, he seems sincere. Like his play on the field, whether any of his efforts will turn out to be effective is anybody's guess. But none of this is the point. The real point is that dogfighting continues to be a lucrative enterprise and a tragic scourge on this country; and it is especially popular among urban youth.
According to a recent New York Times editorial, the federal government has just busted up an eight-state 400 dogfighting ring. It said the participants included a teacher and a Little League coach. It estimates that there are 40,000 such rings that offer dogfighting for rich bettors.
But here are a couple of good things The Daddy sees happening as a result of Vick's crime and subsequent work against dogfighting:
*The federal government has used Vick's case to pick up its work against dogfighting. According to the New York Times, they've been able to tighten laws in 6 states. And arrests are up.
* Since participating dogfighting has become increasingly the thing to do for urban youth, the Humane Society's use of Vick as a cautionary tale against dogfighting makes a lot of sense. They say his speeches to youth around Philadelphia against dogfighting appears to be effective. They say he is working not only with the Humane Society but with influential leaders like Pennsylvania's Governor Rendell, the mayor of Philadelphia and the NAACP.
But the utilization of Vick must be matched with a committed law enforcement campaign to tighten laws against dogfighting throughout the country. Tightening laws in six states is just a drop in the bucket when dogfighting is occuring all over the country. The real deal is this: if law enforcement does not tighten the laws and increase arrests against the sponsors of dogfighting, then all Vick's talk to youth engaged in dogfighting will ultimately mean very little.
So The Daddy wishes Vick successful as an Philadelphia Eagle; and he hopes he continues to parlay that success into an ongoing, committed and successful effort in getting the youth to understand the bestiality of breeding dogs to fight only to kill them later, when they get injured.
Do you think Vick could be helpful in steering youth away from dogfighting?
Wednesday, September 23, 2009
"When an individual is protesting society's refusal to acknowledge his dgnity as a human being, his very act of protest confers dignity on him."
"Bigotry's birthplace is the sinister back room of the mind where plots and schemes are hatched for the persecution and oppression of other human beings."
From The Rebellious Sixties? Yes, I Remember:
A master strategist and tireless activist, you may be best remembered as the organizer of the 1963 March on Washington, on of the largest nonviolent protest ever held in the United States. You brought Gandhi's protest techniques to the American civil rights movement. You helped make Martin Luther King Jr. into an international symbol of peace and nonviolence.
Ok, Bayard. We know the deal.
You were not just a pacifist but
Dr. King's number one man during
The Montgomery bus boycott and the March on Washington.
And we know the rest: that
The same "leaders" of the people you got to the march
Turned their backs on you because you were openly gay.
Yes, you were principled.
But what a price to pay.
Have you heard of Bayard Rustin?
Books & Articles about Bayard Rustin
Anderson, Jervis. Bayard Rustin: Troubles I’ve Seen. New York: Harper Collins Publishers, 1997.
Collins, Elliott. Bayard Rustin: A Civil Rights Biography. Ph.d dissertation, Program in American Studies, New York University, 2000.
D’Emilio, John. “Lost Prophet.” New York: The Free Press, 2003.
D’Emilio, John. “Homophobia and the Trajectory of Postwar American Radicalism: the Case of Bayard Rustin.” Radical History Review (1995) 62: 80-103.
D’Emilio, John. “Bayard Rustin, Civil Rights Strategist.” The Harvard Gay & Lesbian Review, Summer 1999.
Haskins, James. Bayard Rustin: Behind the Scenes of the Civil Rights Movement. New York: Hyperion Books for Children, 1997.
Levine, Daniel. Bayard Rustin and the Civil Rights Movement. New Brunswick, New Jersey: Rutgers University Press, 2000.
Sunday, September 20, 2009
My hair is wooly/
My back is strong/
Strong enough to take the pain/
Afflicted again and again/
What do they call me?"
Listen up. When The Daddy was doing research for his latest book, he learned that singer/social activist Nina Simone was very active in the civil rights movement. She did quite a few concerts and benefits on behalf of civil rights organizations. This is not to mention the numerous consciousness raising songs she wrote and performed that made African Americans feel so proud. In The Rebellious Sixties? Yes, I Remember, The Daddy wrote:
When you shouted "Mississippi Goddamn,"
When you caroled "To be young, gifted and black,"
You didn't sing songs, you sang anthems.
You put a spell on us.
What is your favorite song by Nina Simone?
Friday, September 18, 2009
Afghanistan: Where Empires Go to Die Thursday 17 September 2009
by: Dahr Jamail
On September 7 the Swedish aid agency Swedish Committee for Afghanistan reported that the previous week US soldiers raided one of its hospitals. According to the director of the aid agency, Anders Fange, troops stormed through both the men's and women's wards, where they frantically searched for wounded Taliban fighters.
Soldiers demanded that hospital administrators inform the military of any incoming patients who might be insurgents, after which the military would then decide if said patients would be admitted or not. Fange called the incident "not only a clear violation of globally recognized humanitarian principles about the sanctity of health facilities and staff in areas of conflict, but also a clear breach of the civil-military agreement" between nongovernmental organizations and international forces.
Fange said that US troops broke down doors and tied up visitors and hospital staff.
Impeding operations at medical facilities in Afghanistan directly violate the Fourth Geneva Convention, which strictly forbids attacks on emergency vehicles and the obstruction of medical operations during wartime.
Lt. Cmdr. Christine Sidenstricker, a public affairs officer for the US Navy, confirmed the raid, and told The Associated Press, "Complaints like this are rare."
Despite Sidenstricker's claim that "complaints like this" are rare in Afghanistan, they are, in fact, common. Just as they are in Iraq, the other occupation. A desperate conventional military, when losing a guerilla war, tends to toss international law out the window. Yet even more so when the entire occupation itself is a violation of international law.
Marjorie Cohn, president of the National Lawyers Guild and also a Truthout contributor, is very clear about the overall illegality of the invasion and ongoing occupation of Afghanistan by the United States.
"The UN Charter is a treaty ratified by the United States and thus part of US law," Cohn, who is also a professor at Thomas Jefferson School of Law and recently co-authored the book "Rules of Disengagement: The Politics and Honor of Military Dissent" said, "Under the charter, a country can use armed force against another country only in self-defense or when the Security Council approves. Neither of those conditions was met before the United States invaded Afghanistan. The Taliban did not attack us on 9/11. Nineteen men - 15 from Saudi Arabia - did, and there was no imminent threat that Afghanistan would attack the US or another UN member country. The council did not authorize the United States or any other country to use military force against Afghanistan. The US war in Afghanistan is illegal."
Thus, the invasion and occupation of Afghanistan, along with the ongoing slaughter of Afghan civilians and raiding hospitals, are in violation of international law as well as the US Constitution.
And of course the same applies for Iraq.
Let us recall November 8, 2004, when the US military launched its siege of Fallujah. The first thing done by the US military was to invade and occupy Fallujah General Hospital. Then, too, like this recent incident in Afghanistan, doctors, patients and visitors alike had their hands tied and they were laid on the ground, oftentimes face down, and held at gunpoint.
During my first four trips to Iraq, I commonly encountered hospital staff who reported US military raids on their facilities. US soldiers regularly entered hospitals to search for wounded resistance fighters.
Doctors from Fallujah General Hospital, as well as others who worked in clinics throughout the city during both US sieges of Fallujah in 2004, reported that US Marines obstructed their services and that US snipers intentionally targeted their clinics and ambulances.
"The Marines have said they didn't close the hospital, but essentially they did," Dr. Abdulla, an orthopedic surgeon at Fallujah General Hospital who spoke on condition of using a different name, told Truthout in May 2004 of his experiences in the hospital. "They closed the bridge which connects us to the city [and] closed our road ... the area in front of our hospital was full of their soldiers and vehicles."
He added that this prevented countless patients who desperately needed medical care from receiving medical care. "Who knows how many of them died that we could have saved," said Dr. Abdulla. He also blamed the military for shooting at civilian ambulances, as well as shooting near the clinic at which he worked. "Some days we couldn't leave, or even go near the door because of the snipers," he said, "They were shooting at the front door of the clinic!"
Dr. Abdulla also said that US snipers shot and killed one of the ambulance drivers of the clinic where he worked during the fighting.
Dr. Ahmed, who also asked that only his first name be used because he feared US military reprisals, said, "The Americans shot out the lights in the front of our hospital. They prevented doctors from reaching the emergency unit at the hospital, and we quickly began to run out of supplies and much-needed medications." He also stated that several times Marines kept the physicians in the residence building, thereby intentionally prohibiting them from entering the hospital to treat patients.
"All the time they came in, searched rooms and wandered around," said Dr. Ahmed, while explaining how US troops often entered the hospital in order to search for resistance fighters. Both he and Dr. Abdulla said the US troops never offered any medicine or supplies to assist the hospital when they carried out their incursions. Describing a situation that has occurred in other hospitals, he added, "Most of our patients left the hospital because they were afraid."
Dr. Abdulla said that one of their ambulance drivers was shot and killed by US snipers while he was attempting to collect the wounded near another clinic inside the city.
"The major problem we found were the American snipers," said Dr. Rashid, who worked at another clinic in the Jumaria Quarter of Falluja. "We saw them on top of the buildings near the mayor's office."
Dr. Rashid told of another incident in which a US sniper shot an ambulance driver in the leg. The ambulance driver survived, but a man who came to his rescue was shot by a US sniper and died on the operating table after Dr. Rashid and others had worked to save him. "He was a volunteer working on the ambulance to help collect the wounded," Dr. Rashid said sadly.
During Truthout's visit to the hospital in May 2004, two ambulances in the parking lot sat with bullet holes in their windshields, while others had bullet holes in their back doors and sides.
"I remember once we sent an ambulance to evacuate a family that was bombed by an aircraft," said Dr. Abdulla while continuing to speak about the US snipers, "The ambulance was sniped - one of the family died, and three were injured by the firing."
Neither Dr. Abdulla nor Dr. Rashid said they knew of any medical aid being provided to their hospital or clinics by the US military. On this topic, Dr. Rashid said flatly, "They send only bombs, not medicine."
Chuwader General Hospital in Sadr City also reported similar findings to Truthout, as did other hospitals throughout Baghdad.
Dr. Abdul Ali, the ex-chief surgeon at Al-Noman Hospital, admitted that US soldiers had come to the hospital asking for information about resistance fighters. To this he said, "My policy is not to give my patients to the Americans. I deny information for the sake of the patient."
During an interview in April 2004, he admitted this intrusion occurred fairly regularly and interfered with patients receiving medical treatment. He noted, "Ten days ago this happened - this occurred after people began to come in from Fallujah, even though most of them were children, women and elderly."
A doctor at Al-Kerkh Hospital, speaking on condition of anonymity, shared a similar experience of the problem that appears to be rampant throughout much of the country: "We hear of Americans removing wounded Iraqis from hospitals. They are always coming here and asking us if we have injured fighters."
Speaking about the US military raid of the hospital in Afghanistan, UN spokesman Aleem Siddique said he was not aware of the details of the particular incident, but that international law requires the military to avoid operations in medical facilities.
"The rules are that medical facilities are not combat areas. It's unacceptable for a medical facility to become an area of active combat operations," he said. "The only exception to that under the Geneva Conventions is if a risk is being posed to people."
"There is the Hippocratic oath," Fange added, "If anyone is wounded, sick or in need of treatment ... if they are a human being, then they are received and treated as they should be by international law."
These are all indications of a US Empire in decline. Another recent sign of US desperation in Afghanistan was the bombing of two fuel tanker trucks that the Taliban had captured from NATO. US warplanes bombed the vehicles, from which impoverished local villagers were taking free gas, incinerating as many as 150 civilians, according to reports from villagers.
The United States Empire is following a long line of empires and conquerors that have met their end in Afghanistan. The Median and Persian Empires, Alexander the Great, the Seleucids, the Indo-Greeks, Turks, Mongols, British and Soviets all met the end of their ambitions in Afghanistan.
And today, the US Empire is on the fast track of its demise. A recent article by Tom Englehardt provides us more key indicators of this:
In 2002 there were 5,200 US soldiers in Afghanistan. By December of this year, there will be 68,000. Compared to the same period in 2008, Taliban attacks on coalition forces using Improvised Explosive Devices (IEDs) has risen 114 percent. Compared to the same period in 2008, coalition deaths from IED attacks have increased sixfold. Overall Taliban attacks on coalition forces in the first five months of 2009, compared to the same period last year, have increased 59 percent.
Genghis Khan could not hold onto Afghanistan.
Neither will the United States, particularly when in its desperation to continue its illegal occupation, it tosses aside international law, along with its own Constitution.
Thursday, September 17, 2009
In Where Men Win Glory, journalist Jon Krakauer tells about the circumstances around his death and the Bush administration's attempt to coverup of the entire thing. Alternet's reporter Sarah Seltzer wrote about it. Check it out:
Inside Pat Tillman life, and the Bush Administration's coverup of his death by Sarah Seltzer
Journalist Jon Krakauer is obsessed with people who make unfathomable choices, from a young man wandering in the wilderness in Into the Wild to climbers attempting Everest in Into Thin Air to polygamists hearing a call to violence in Under the Banner of Heaven. The subject of Krakauer's new book Where Men Win Glory: The Odyssey of Pat Tillman is one of these. As we all know, Pat Tillman left the NFL in 2002 to enlist in the army, inspired to do his part in the service of a president he distrusted and later, a war he doubted. When Tillman was killed by friendly fire, the army and government engaged in a cover-up to turn him into a martyred hero. In this book, Krakauer exposes each step of the deception with persistent detail.
If Where Men Win Glory is less immediately gripping, less fluid and tense, than Krakauer's previous books, this is partly because the story he's telling is known, and painful. But the theme of our government's failure colliding with a young man's sense of duty has a relevance and moral immediacy that's hard to shake off.
Ultimately, Where Men Win Glory leaves you, as does Into the Wild, with a sense of futility and anger over the death of a young man that you knew was coming all along. While Krakauer levels his most scathing insults at the Bush administration and portrays the army chain of command as a bureaucratic, cover-your-ass nightmare, in this book the fog of war is the real culprit. As Krakauer told the Wall Street Journal, "There is nothing glamorous or romantic about war. It's mostly about random pointless death and misery. And that's what [Tillman's] death tells us. It reminds me that the good aren't rewarded, there's no such thing as karma." War, Krakauer writes, creates a climate that leads panicked men to gun down their brothers in cold blood at a staggeringly high rate in all recorded conflicts, and a climate that obscures mistakes and misdeeds (as is the case not just with friendly fire, but with crimes like sexual assault and the death of LaVena Johnson. It's a climate that leads commanders to make decisions from behind desks (as happened on the day Tillman died) that those on the ground deem unsafe but are powerless to disobey.
Krakauer begins with an account of that day. It begins with Tillman's lieutenant, David Uthlaut, begging his superiors not to split up his unit or have them travel in the daytime--both huge risks--but being denied both requests in order to conform to a pre-ordained timetable. Timetables, Krakauer notes disdainfully, were a particular obsession of Donald Rumsfields', enabling him to check off boxes on his war on terror.
After the first chapter, Where Men Win Glory backtracks, alternating the story of Tillman's early life and NFL career with the history of Afghanistan and the conflicts it has endured, creating a sense of dread as readers know what will happen when the two threads converge. Tillman's personality, enigmatic though it was, becomes clearer here: a young man who struggled to channel his existential angst and occasional aggression into constant self-improvement, who was never content being comfortable and continually pushed himself, running marathons and triathlons in the football off-season, taking death-defying cliff-dives, reading and discussing philosophy over drinks, and writing diary entries after bad football games exhorting himself to do better. Consumed with notions of honor, risk and service, this larger-than-life man was also a family rock and a devoted husband to his young wife Marie, the bright-burning center of an extremely close-knit group of friends and relatives. Even the picture of Tillman on the book's back jacket--long haired, intense with a slightly mischievous look in his eyes--is worth a look, so different is it from the military portrait of Tillman used by the press.
At the same time as he illuminates this character, Krakauer sets the political stage for Tillman's death and its cover-up, describing the brutal Soviet occupation of Afghanistan, the role of the CIA and the mujahideen, the forming and re-forming alliances that led to the Taliban giving Osama Bin Laden safe haven. On our side, he mentions the disastrous Florida recount, getting in a jab at Scalia and Bush v. Gore, urgent memos about Bin Laden ignored by the Bush administration, and the "selling" and spinning of the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. Many readers will be aware of this history, but juxtaposing it with a life that will be ended by its trajectory creates a fresh sense of urgency and disbelief.
Perhaps the most incredible aspect of the book is its extensive excerpting from Tillman's diaries, granted to Krakauer by his widow Marie, and stories about his time deployed overseas, where he read The Odyssey and "Self-Reliance," and was shocked by the youth and immaturity of his co-enlistees. Tillman expresses his doubt about the Iraq War from its onset: "It may be very soon that Nub [his brother Kevin] & I will be called upon to take part in something I see no clear purpose for... I believe we have little or no justification other than our imperial whim," he wrote. On another occasion, he calls Bush a "cowboy."
To read the rest of the story, click here.
Wednesday, September 16, 2009
Can you accept the fact that much, if not most, of the birthers and 9-12 marchers' attempt to de-legitimize President Obama is because they either cannot or will not accept a black man as the president of the United States?
Why not? Because deep down in their unconscious sits the notion that a black man is not a former top student and editor of their law review. He is not a teacher of constitutional law at the University of Chicago for over a decade. He is not a man "of the people" who served admirably in the Illinois senate. No, he is a no-working criminal, an overactive sexual being helping the black woman, another overactive sexual being and veritable sex factory, pump babies out of projects like water out of a faucet...He is a walking phallic symbol lying in wait like a tiger in high grass to prey on his loyal wife or-- heaven forbid!-- deflower their lily-white precious daughter.
This racist white notion resides in not all but many white Americans; and, though Obama's ascendency to the presidency may have helped a few of them to begin to see the black man as more than other, it has yet to do much to change the deeply-held racist feelings of most of them. Though careful with this words, President Carter said as much.
President Carter: Remember him? He's the one who, while president, said he occassionally "lusted in his heart" after women. And we laughed at him, didn't we?
He's the one who told us that we need to begin a comprehensive program to conserve energy so as to become less dependent on foreign oil, which is giving out anyway. We called the peanut farmer negative, didn't we?
He's the one who went to Israel, came back and wrote a book about the Israeli government's oppressive and maltreatment of the Palestinians, arguing that there will never be peace in the Middle East until we straighten that situation out. The American Jewish lobby and our mainstream media (the ones who even had the guts to report on it) raked him over the coals, didn't they? But we know now that, after more than 20 years out of office, after years years of building houses, feeding people, protecting people from dieseases like malaria and fairly judging elections all over the world, President Carter is a religious man who speaks truth, a man of integrity, a kind of quiet sense of digniy, a man who is not afraid to say what needs to be said, regardless of the costs.
President Obama and racism
Now, President Carter speaks truth again, saying much of the hostility against Presdent Obama is about racism:
"I think an overwhelming portion of the intensely demonstrated animosity toward President Barack Obama is based on the fact that he is a black man. I live in the South, and I've seen the South come a long way, and I've seen the rest of the country that share the South's attitude toward minority groups at that time, particularly African Americans."
And that racism inclination still exists. And I think it's bubbled up to the surface because of the belief among many white people, not just in the South but around the country, that African-Americans are not qualified to lead this great country. It's an abominable circumstance, and it grieves me and concerns me very deeply."
Are you ready to take him seriously and listen now? Can you handle the truth?
Tuesday, September 15, 2009
Listen up. The Daddy is still trying to make sense of why we are in Afghanistan, putting our brave but poorly civilian-led soldiers at increased risk and waisting resources that can never be returned. A brotha just came across a very interesting article at "Foreign Policy Focus," and written by Conn Hallinan, a columnist at the Institute for Policy Studies (Iwww.ips-dc.org). It provides some clues about the thinking behind Obama's top advisors. Check it out:
Afghanistan: What are these people thinking?
One of the oddest -- indeed, surreal -- encounters around the war in Afghanistan has to be a telephone call this past July 27. On one end of the line was historian Stanley Karnow, author of Vietnam: A History. On the other, State Department special envoy Richard Holbrooke and the U.S. military commander in Afghanistan, General Stanley McChrystal. The question: How can Washington avoid the kind of defeat it suffered in Southeast Asia 40 years ago?
Karnow did not divulge what he said to the two men, but he told Associated Press that the "lesson" of Vietnam "was that we shouldn't have been there," and that, while "Obama and everybody else seems to want to be in Afghanistan," he, Karnow, was opposed to the war.
It is hardly surprising that Washington should see parallels to the Vietnam debacle. The enemy is elusive enemy. The local population is neutral, if not hostile. And the governing regime is corrupt with virtually no support outside of the nation's capital.
But in many ways Afghanistan is worse than Vietnam. So, it is increasingly hard to fathom why a seemingly intelligent American administration seems determined to hitch itself to this disaster in the making. It is almost as if there is something about that hard-edged Central Asian country that deranges its occupiers.
In his address to the Veterans of Foreign Wars, Obama characterized Afghanistan as "a war of necessity" against international terrorism. But the reality is that the Taliban is a polyglot collection of conflicting political currents whose goals are local, not universal jihad.
"The insurgency is far from monolithic," says Anand Gopal, a reporter for the Christian Science Monitor based in Afghanistan. "There are shadowy, kohl-eyed mullahs and head-bobbing religious students, of course, but there are also erudite university students, poor illiterate farmers, and veteran anti-Soviet commanders. The movement is a mélange of nationalists, Islamists, and bandits...made up of competing commanders and differing ideologies and strategies who nonetheless agree on one essential goal: kicking out the foreigners."
Taliban spokesman Yousef Ahmadi told Gopal, "We are fighting to free our country from foreign domination," adding, "Even the Americans once waged an insurgency to free their country."
Besides the Taliban, there are at least two other insurgent groups. Hizb-I-Islam is led by former U.S. ally Gulbuddin Hekmatyer. The Haqqani group, meanwhile, has close ties to al-Qaeda.
The White House's rationale of "international terrorism" parallels the Southeast Asian tragedy. The U.S. characterized Vietnam as part of an international Communist conspiracy, while the conflict was essentially a homegrown war of national liberation.
One casualty of Vietnam was the doctrine of counterinsurgency, the theory that an asymmetrical war against guerrillas can be won by capturing the "hearts and minds" of the people. Of course "hearts and minds" was a pipe dream, obliterated by massive civilian casualties, the widespread use of defoliants, and the creation of "strategic hamlets" that had more in common with concentration camps than villages.
In Vietnam's aftermath, "counterinsurgency" fell out of favor, to be replaced by the "Powell Doctrine" of relying on massive firepower to win wars. With that strategy the United States crushed the Iraqi army in the first Gulf War. Even though the doctrine was downsized for the invasion of Iraq a decade later, it was still at the heart of the attack.
However, within weeks of taking Baghdad, U.S. soldiers were besieged by an insurgency that wasn't in the lesson plan. Ambushes and roadside bombs took a steady toll on U.S. and British troops, and aggressive countermeasures predictably turned the population against the occupation.
After four years of getting hammered by insurgents, the Pentagon rediscovered counterinsurgency, and its prophet was General David Petraeus, now commander of all U.S. forces in the Middle East and Central Asia. "Hearts and minds" was dusted off, and the watchwords became "clear, hold, and build." Troops were to hang out with the locals, dig wells, construct schools, and measure success not by body counts of the enemy, but by the "security" of the civilian population.
This theory impelled the Obama administration to "surge" 21,000 troops into Afghanistan, and to consider adding another 20,000 in the near future. The idea is that a surge will reduce the violence, as a similar surge of 30,000 troops had done in Iraq.
For the rest of the story, click here:
Saturday, September 12, 2009
First, Al Queda is already free to move around in many countries, especially between Pakistan and Afghanistan. It can readily use different roads to slip in and out of Afghanistan at will.
Second, the people of Afghanistan already have their own unique political structure via its tribal system and see no need for another.
Third, if concern for women is our chief reason for being there, why are we not in Darfur where our own governmental officials and emissaries (including General Colin Powell), have already admitted the government is practicing genocide and is using the daily rape of women as a weapon?
The real deal
What we Americans don't want to concede is that our war in Afghanistan is turning into another Vietnam at the same time that the situation in Pakistan is becoming more critical. We're steadily increasing the number of American troops and becoming bogged down in a land far away from home. Increasingly, we're occupying a land of a people whom we don't know and who don't want us there. Like Vietnam, not only do we not know its people; we don't know their language or even how to pronounce their names. Like Vietnam, we not only don't know the terrain; the terrain itself (in this case, the mountainous terrain) is so difficult to negotiate that our enemy can utilize it to hold off our troops indefinitely.
Some real journalism
Ready to cut through the CNN/MSNBC nonsense and get to some real journalism?
Robert Sheer, a superb, independent journalist, wrote an excellent story about our war there for a progressive online magazine called Truthdig. Now, The Daddy knows this is not the most exciting subject to read on a weekend, but given the fact that Americans are dying there in increasingly higher numbers, don't you think the read is worth it?
Here's the article:
Obama's Quagmire Looks a Lot like Vietnam
True, he doesn't seem a bit like Lyndon Johnson, but the way he's headed on Afghanistan, Barack Obama is threatened with a quagmire that could bog down his presidency. LBJ also had a progressive agenda in mind, beginning with his war on poverty, but it was soon overwhelmed by the cost and divisiveness engendered by a meaningless, and seemingly endless, war in Vietnam.
Meaningless is the right term for the Afghanistan war, too, because our bloody attempt to conquer this foreign land has nothing to do with its stated purpose of enhancing our national security. Just as the government of Vietnam was never a puppet of communist China or the Soviet Union, the Taliban is not a surrogate for al Qaeda. Involved in both instances was an American intrusion into a civil war whose passions and parameters we never fully have grasped and will always fail to control militarily.
The Vietnamese communists were not an extension of an inevitably hostile, unified international communist enemy, as evidenced by the fact that communist Vietnam and communist China are both our close trading partners today. Nor should the Taliban be considered simply an extension of a Mideast-based al Qaeda movement, whose operatives the United States recruited in the first place to go to Afghanistan to fight the Soviets.
Those recruits included Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, the alleged mastermind of the 9-11 attack, and financier Osama bin Laden, who met in Afghanistan as part of a force that Ronald Reagan glorified as "freedom fighters." As blowback from that bizarre, mismanaged CIA intervention, the Taliban came to power and formed a temporary alliance with the better-financed foreign Arab fighters still on the scene.
There is no serious evidence that the Taliban instigated the 9-11 attacks or even knew about them in advance. Taliban members were not agents of al Qaeda; on the contrary, the only three governments that financed and diplomatically recognized the Taliban - Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and Pakistan - all were targets of bin Laden's group.
To insist that the Taliban be vanquished militarily as a prerequisite for thwarting al Qaeda is a denial of the international fluidity of that terrorist movement. Al Qaeda, according to U.S. intelligence sources, has operated effectively in countries as disparate as Somalia, Indonesia, England and Pakistan, to name just a few. What is required to stymie such a movement is effective police and intelligence work, as opposed to deploying vast conventional military forces in the hope of finding, or creating, a conventional war to win. This last wan hope is what the effort in Afghanistan - in the last two months at its most costly point in terms of American deaths - is all about: marshaling enormous firepower to fight shadows.
The Taliban is a traditional guerrilla force that can easily elude conventional armies. Once again the generals on the ground are insisting that a desperate situation can be turned around if only more troops are committed, as Gen. Stanley A. McChrystal did in a report leaked this week. Even with U.S. forces being increased to 68,000 as part of an 110,000-strong allied army, the general states, "The situation in Afghanistan is serious." In the same sentence, however, he goes on to say that "success is achievable."
Fortunately, Defense Secretary Robert Gates is given to some somber doubts on this point, arguing that the size of the U.S. force breeds its own discontents: "I have expressed some concerns in the past about the size of the American footprint, the size of the foreign military footprint in Afghanistan," he said. "And, clearly, I want to address those issues. And we will have to look at the availability of forces, we'll have to look at costs."
I write the word fortunately because just such wisdom on the part of Robert McNamara, another defense secretary, during the buildup to Vietnam would have led him to oppose rather than abet what he ruefully admitted decades after the fact was a disastrous waste of life and treasure: 59,000 Americans dead, along with 3.4 million Indochinese, mostly innocent civilians.
I was reporting from Vietnam when that buildup began, and then as now there was an optimism not supported by the facts on the ground. Then as now there were references to elections and supporting local politicians to win the hearts and minds of people we were bombing. Then as now the local leaders on our side turned out to be hopelessly corrupt, a condition easily exploited by those we term the enemy.
Those who favor an escalation of the Afghanistan war ought to own up to its likely costs. If 110,000 troops have failed, will we need the half million committed at one point to Vietnam, which had a far less intractable terrain? And can you have that increase in forces without reinstituting the draft?
It is time for Democrats to remember that it was their party that brought America its most disastrous overseas adventure and to act forthrightly to pull their chosen president back from the abyss before it is too late.
This article originally appeared on TruthDig.
Friday, September 11, 2009
Timeline of Hijacking
7:58 a.m. - United Airlines Flight 175 departs Boston for Los Angeles, carrying 56 passengers, two pilots, and seven flight attendants. The Boeing 767 is hijacked after takeoff and diverted to New York.
7:59 a.m. - American Airlines Flight 11 departs Boston for Los Angeles, carrying 81 passengers, two pilots, and nine flight attendants. This Boeing 767 is also hijacked and diverted to New York.
8:01 a.m. - United Airlines Flight 93, a Boeing 757 carrying 38 passengers, two pilots, and five flight attendants, leaves Newark, N.J., for San Francisco.
8:10 a.m. - American Airlines Flight 77 departs Washington's Dulles International Airport for Los Angeles, carrying 58 passengers, two pilots, and four flight attendants. The Boeing 757 is hijacked after takeoff.
8:46 a.m. - American Flight 11 from Boston crashes into the North Tower at the World Trade Center.
9:03 a.m. - United Flight 175 from Boston crashes into the South Tower at the World Trade Center. - U.S. Federal Aviation Administration shuts down all New York area airports.
9:21 a.m. - Bridges and tunnels leading into New York City are closed.
9:25 a.m. - All domestic flights are grounded by U.S. Federal Aviation Administration.
9:45 a.m. - American Flight 77 crashes into The Pentagon.
10:05 a.m. - The South Tower at the World Trade Center collapses.
10:05 a.m. - The White House is evacuated.
10:10 a.m. - A large section of one side of The Pentagon collapses.
10:10 a.m. - United Flight 93 crashes in a wooded area in Pennsylvania, after passengers confront hijackers.
10:28 a.m. - The North Tower at the World Trade Center collapses.
Thursday, September 10, 2009
And enters some alien cage in its plight,
And tries to forget it has dreamed of the stars,
While it breaks, breaks, breaks on the sheltering bars."
--Georgia Douglas Johnson
Listen up. September 10 is the date that poet and producer Georgia Douglas Johnson. Daughter of a wealthy Englishman, Johnson was born in Marietta, GA. She attended Atlanta University, studied music at Oberlin college in Ohio.
In 1903, Douglas, her husband-- Henry Johnson-- and two sons moved to Washington D.C. where her home became the site of a weekly gathering of young black writers and artists. It became known as the "S Street Salon," a place for writers came to showcase their new work. These young and ambitious authors included Langston Hughes, Countee Cullen, Jean Toomer, MaryP. Burrill, and Angelina Weld Grimke among others.
Despite working full time, Johnson remained involved with produced literary works, maintained a column for more than 20 weekly newspapers, edited books, wrote 40 plays and more than 39 songs. And she continued to write very good poetry. As a writer, she was perhaps best know for her poem, "I Want to Die While You Love Me," which was read at her funeral. She died in May of 1966.
- I want to die while you love me,
- While yet you hold me fair,
- While laughter lies upon my lips
- And lights are in my hair.
- I want to die while you love me,
- And bear to that still bed
- Your kisses turbulent, unspent,
- To warm me when I'm dead.
- I want to die while you love me
- Oh, who would care to live
- Till love has nothing more to ask
- And nothing more to give!
- I want to die while you love me
- And never, never see
- The glory of this perfect day
- Grow dim or cease to be.
- Georgia Douglas Johnson
The Oxford Companion to African American Literature. Ed. William L. Andrews, Frances Smith Foster, and Trudier Harris. Oxford University Press Copyright © 1997
Tuesday, September 8, 2009
In Part II, he will make some points about the blues master that perhaps you didn’t know. Here’s a brief biography of King.
King was born Frederick Christian in Gilmer, Texas on September 3, 1934. His mother was Ella May King, his father J.T Christian. His mother and her brother, who both played the guitar, began teaching Freddie to play at the age of six. He liked and imitated the music of Lightnin Sam Hopkins and saxophonist Louis Jordan.
He moved with his family from Texas to the Southside of Chicago in 1950. There, at age 16 he used to sneak in to local clubs, where he heard blues music performed by the likes of Muddy Waters, Howlin’ Wolf, T-Bone Walker, Elmore James, and Sonny Boy Williamson. Howlin Wolf took him under his wing (or paw), and Freddie also began jamming with Muddy Waters’ sidemen, who included Eddie Taylor, Jimmy Rogers, Robert Lockwood Jr. and Little Walter.
By 1952 he had married a Texas girl, Jessie Burnett. He gigged at night and worked days in a steel mill. He got occasional work as a sideman on recording sessions. Two bands that he played with during this period were the Sonny Cooper Band, and Early Payton’s Blues Cats. He formed the first band of his own, the Every Hour Blues Boys, with guitarist Jimmy Lee Robinson and drummer Sonny Scott.
In 1953 he made some recordings for Parrot. In 1956 he recorded “Country Boy”, a duet with Margaret Whitfield, and “That’s What You Think”, an uptempo blues. This was for a local label, El-Bee. Robert Lockwood Jr. appeared as a sideman on guitar.
In 1959 he met Sonny Thompson, a pianist who worked for the King/Federal label. In 1960, he himself signed with that label; while there he often shared songwriting credits, and participated in marathon recording sessions, with Thompson. On August 26, 1960, he recorded “Have You Ever Loved a Woman” and “Hide Away”, which were to become to of his most popular tunes. His debut release for the label was “You’ve Got To Love Her with Feeling”. His second release on King/Federal was “I Love the Woman”. “Hide Away” was used as the B side for this disk; that tune, a 12-bar mid-tempo shuffle in E with an infectious theme in the head section, and a memorable stop-time break that featured some robust-sounding work on the bass strings, was destined to become one of his signature numbers. It was an adaptation of a tune by Hound Dog Taylor. It was named “Hide Away” after a popular bar in Chicago. Strictly an instrumental — guitar with rhythm section — it delighted everyone by crossing over and reaching #29 on the pop chart. It was later covered by Eric Clapton, Stevie Ray Vaughan, the Canadian guitarist Jeff Healey, and likely a majority of the bar blues bands on Planet Earth.
After the success of “Hide Away”, the label, which was presided over by one Syd Nathan, got Freddie and Sonny Thompson to work on making more instrumentals. This they did, producing over 30 of them during the next five years. The following is a partial list: “The Stumble,” “Low Tide,” “Wash Out,” “Sidetracked”, “San-Ho-Zay,” “Heads Up,” “Onion Rings,” and “The Sad Nite Owl”. Freddie became popular with a young white audience, and his playing was a major influence on the upcoming breed of rock guitarists. During this period he was touring frequently along with the big R&B acts of the day such as Sam Cooke, Jackie Wilson, James Brown. His band included his brother Benny Turner on bass; and Tyrone Davis, who would later become known in his own right, was the driver and valet.
On the personal side, Freddie was fond, perhaps overly fond, of the night life. His official website refers to him “Gambling til dawn in the backroom of Mike’s cleaners.” His wife, now with six children, decided to move back to Texas. Once there, she called Syd Nathan and demanded that he send her some of the royalty money due to her husband. To his credit, he sent her two thousand dollars, with which she made the down payment on a house. Realizing that the family was definitely not coming back to Chicago, Freddie, in the spring of 1963, moved back to Texas.
To read the full biography, see last.fm
--All About Jazz
“The lord sure enough put you here to play the blues.”
--Howlin Wolf to Freddie King
As mentioned in the biography, Freddie King was born in Gilmer, Texas, on September 3, 1934. Although he learned quite a bit from his mother and others who played guitar in the area like fellow Texan Lighning Hopkins, he matured as a guitarist in Chicago. In 1949, he moved to Chicago. At the age of 16, he began sneaking into clubs and hanging out with musicians. Soon, he was hanging out and jamming with the likes of Muddy Waters, Little Walter, Sonny Boy Williamson, Elmore James and others.
Howlin Wolf took him under his wings and taught him how to survive on the streets of Chicago. Between Howlin Wolf and Muddy Waters and his sidemen (Eddie Taylor, Little Walter, Robert Lockwood Jr.) King found a protective inner circle. This inner circle helped him to mature not only as a musician but to make the transition from the rural South to a Northern metropolis.
Not long after that, he was working as a sidemen for different groups that recorded at Chess Records under the direction of Willie Dixon. He recorded a few songs for Parrot and then moved on to Federal, Cotillion, Shelter and other labels.
Unlike B.B. King’s single note playing with a flat pick, King employed a more “down home” approach, using his thumb and fingers. According to his official website, it was Eddie Taylor who taught Freddie King how to play using a metal index finger pick and a plastic thumb pick, as opposed to a regular flat pick. It was a Texas style of playing that would influence players across the Ocean like Eric Clapton and Jeff Beck.
Lightning Red, another Texan and guitarist, further explained King’s guitar approach:
"If you listen to just about any contemporary blues guitarist (including myself), you'll hear a lot of Freddie King. Listen to Stevie Ray Vaughan's "Pride And Joy" when it first goes to the fifth chord turnaround. That descending G-E-D-B-A-G-E, etc. run is classic Freddie King. As well as are countless vibrato moves throughout his music. Eric Clapton cites Freddie King as a primary influence. This Texas legend is probably responsible for Mr. Clapton's perfection of the slowhand technique in which the vibrato sound is accomplished by moving the string across the fret board in an easy flow.
In my opinion, Freddie was one of the first blues players to really feel the funk, to put a lot of syncopation into his artistry. He was a major influence on just about every second generation blues guitarist, and I highly recommend you sit down with a complete collection of his music and go to work. Because his 335 did not have a stop-tailpiece as did B.B.'s, Freddie used longer and/or a fairly heavy gauge of strings which contributed to his slowhand vibrato technique."
King seemed to always be popular on the chitlin circuit (black community), but some say labels went to ridiculous levels to market him to whites. One label had him doing a surfing album. Some critics say labels went too far in marketing King to young white audiences as well. Others say these more rock-tinged recordings with pianist Leon Russell and, later, Clapton on his RSO label was more or less a reflection of the music business at that time. They say blacks were turning away from blues and toward R&B. They say Freddie King knew what white listeners wanted and he turned up the volume on his amp and guitar to give it to them. Regardless, most agree that his recordings for the Cotillion label in 1968 ("My feeling for the blues" and "Freddie King is a blues master") were two of his best.
The blues master lives on
After more than 30 years, Freddie King is still remembered fondly. In 1993, Texas governor Anne Richards declared September 3 as Freddie King Day. A few of his best songs can seen on YouTube. And the Freddie King Blues Fest continues to be held every year in Dallas. Clearly, Texas still loves one of her favorite sons.
Sunday, September 6, 2009
The selfish, false male ego of The Daddy would like to think that this book by an author who steadfastly entertains the illusion that he is a writer. But upon greater reflection, even he can see that this book is about something more-- that it transcends him, time, and historical circumstances.
Yes, this book pays homage to those who staged sit-ins at so-called white only restaurants in North Carolina, who marched for the right to vote during the day in backward towns in Mississippi, Alabama, South Carolina and other places and then had to drive down dangerous roads to find a place to sleep, knowing The White Citizens Council of Mississippi or some other such KKK group could be just ahead of them.
Yes, the book speaks to the spirit of "idealistic" youth who "tuned out" of "normal" society. But more than all of that, this is about young people doing what all successive generations of young people do: rebel against what they perceive to be wrong in its society and try to change it. In the sixties, it was to get America to end its propensity for engaging in war abroad and turn its vast riches toward ending apartheid in the southern part of the United States, provide real democracy, justice and equality at home. It was at times a plea and other times a demand for our country to turn away from war and end injustice, poverty and racism.
Yes, this book is about the sixties. But viewed more broadly, it is about a successive generation of young people trying to improve its society: to get a country to live up to its highly professed ideals that fell very short of those ideals in reality. Yet, from this tumultuous struggle, the children of the sixties helped strengthen values and ideas that continue through this day.
For us, the children of the sixties, many of those ideals and even the belief that America can be a better place still lives within us.
Does the spirit of the sixties and some of its ideals still reside within you?