war crimes

The appologists for Malai massacre in Vietnam always irritated me. When the only man convicted of responsibility, a Lyndie England type fellow named Lt. Calley, got out of jail his hometown welcomed him back warmly notwithstanding the pictures of scores of murdered innocents.

A similar situation exists for American troops in Iraq as Vietnam. They don’t know who is friendly and who is intent on killing them. So far I’ve not heard too many stories about our troops calling Iraqi’s “towel heads” but I’m sure it happens. The military knows that its politically incorrect. That’s not how it was after WWII. When I’d play war games I’d call the Germans, “Jerrys,” just like the actors I’d heard in war movies. In Vietnam it was “gooks” which was even more dehumanizing.

We can’t treat people who gun down civilians even in panic as heroes. They should be prosecuted. But we’re so desperate for manpower that we are sending troops in who shouldn’t be there. Damn the impossible situation that has turned some good Americans into monsters. If that’s not a war crime it ought to be.


I just heard the most remarkable admission on MRP by the Democratic Senate Majority leader Dean Johnson: 

“If he was not so beholden to the extreme right, he would be the best governor probably the state has ever had.”

That almost sounds like an endorsement to me.

The DNT also weighed in with a headline a couple days ago announcing Pawlenty’s bid for reelection that was very generous “A wiser Pawlenty readies for race.”

Right wing guilt by association or not this is going to be a very tough race for a Democrat to win.

Unity08 again

I’ve just posted a comment on the UnityO8 website. They seem to be getting new posts about every five minutes so mine won’t be visible for very long. Here’s what I told them.

“Yours is a revolution by committee whereas Ross Perot’s 1992 presidential campaign was sparked by one man who ignited a potent sense of drift. That sense of drift has returned with a vengeance and I see some plusses to the committee approach. Perot’s star fell as fast as it had risen when his eccentricities came to light. You’ve got two years to vet the unity idea and find an eccentricity free candidate (if such a person exists). The Internet gives you the perfect vehicle to get past the entrenched two-party machinery without having to depend on a millionaire to finance the campaign. As an independent Congressional candidate in 1992 I had hoped that the Perot phenomenon would help me. I found, however, that the people who flocked to the Reform Party were a mixed bag of wingnuts, and centrists. My attempt to hitch a ride on Perot’s coattails was met with paranoia by Perot’s self selected champions. They were putting all their eggs in the Presidential basket. It didn’t occur to them that their man could use a friendly Congress. 

Since you’ve set the parameters for your movement I don’t think wingnuts will take over Unity08 like they did when Pat Buchanan got the Reform Party’s presidential nomination. Still, just as in 1992, your President will need a sympathetic Congress.  2006 is shaping up to be the perfect election to clean up Congress. It would be shame for your 08 President to have to deal with the same issue driven politicos that now rule the Nation’s capitol.”   



Putting Iraq’s losses “in context”

Powerline makes the case that Americans sense of failure in Iraq has been grossly exaggerated by media accounts of the service men and women whose lives have been lost. They have a point. Powerline compares military deaths during peacetime with those in Iraq during the war. It turns out that peacetime deaths are almost one third those of wartime Iraq.

During Vietnam I often contrasted the number of Vietnam combat deaths to the number of people who died stateside in traffic accidents. I can’t recall the numbers but I’d guess that in a year with a maximum of about 10,000 combat deaths there was a traffic death toll on the order of 70,000. In those years only Ralph Nader was out protesting highway safety.

As of 2004 there were 42,000 traffic related deaths in the U.S.


I just read about Unity 08 in Newsweek. The upshot:

“The Unity08 plan is for an online third-party convention in mid-2008, following the early primaries. Any registered voter could be a delegate; their identities would be confirmed by cross-referencing with voter registration rolls…”

Wow! Using the Internet in much the same fashion as Howard Dean did a third party could barge its way into the 08 Presidential election. As Newsweek’s Jonathan Alter says 40% of all Americans self identify as Independents these days. That leaves 30% each for the polarized, self righteous, Democrats and Republicans.  Could such a plurality bring America together again? Check it out: Unity 08.

Another Shoe drops in the legislature

Rep. Irv Anderson of International Falls is hanging it up at age 82. His name wasn’t on yesterday’s list of Minnesota’s retiring legislators. There’s still a little over a month to go before the filings open for the November elections so even more incumbents could decided to call it a day. If this is an anti-Republican or anti-incumbent election year then even more fresh new faces could go to St. Paul.

No Gun Ri

Today, the day after Memorial Day, the DNT had two stories that converged for me.

The first was a long Washington Post story about how returning vets find Americans generally clueless about the conditions in Iraq. The story itself says this is just an echo of past wars. I heard about it during and after Vietnam. The movie “Best Days of our lives” hinted at this truth after World War II and my Grandfather surely felt it recuperating in the hospital after World War I.

Entertainment about cops and murderers can fill up an entire night of throw away television programing which can be forgotten after the nightly news. Ten months of killing of being killed in a war zone is much different.

Robert E. Lee the peerless Confederate General said: “Its a good thing that war is so terrible or we should grow too fond of it.” Maybe that’s true for the Generals and politicians. I’m not so sure if that’s true of the soldiers or civilians in a war zone.

The other story was about No Gun Ri an incident that took place in 1950 the year I was born. When I looked for it on the Internet I found it first on two South Korean newspapers above another story about how the Koreans are making a movie of the incident/incidents. Apparently there was an official American policy to shoot any Korean approaching American lines because the Americans couldn’t tell the difference between refugees and infiltrators. Even though we saved the South Koreans from the fate of North Korea they are taking a harsh view of our military  necessity fifty-seven years ago. I wonder how the Iraqies will feel about us fifty years from now?

When the story first surfaced in 1999 the U.S. military denied it then described it as a case of soldiers panicking. Its always easier to blame the grunts (look at Lyndie England) but the policy came from the top; from the General Lee’s of the Korean War.

Meanwhile, the folks back home are too busy stuffing their face with empty calories to bother worrying about the people defending them abroad or so the returning soldiers seem to think.

Filling up the empty nest

After four years on his own our son is moving back for the summer. The nexus of his lease ending and making plans for next fall put him on a collision course with bumming with friends, moving home, or living on the streets. I’m glad to say his old room beckoned and he moved his stuff back during our gardening mania. It’s the temporary end to our empty nesting.

I asked him to leave his bed alone until he moves back on the first of June. For the past week it’s been the place where I’ve been sorting documents relating to the Boyd Scandal. I’ve got to move it somewhere else but since my daughter’s bed is full of the stuff related to the Duluth Schools Endowment I’ve got nowhere to put the Scandal stuff. God forbid that I would put it in files. However tidy that would be it would threaten to put it out of my mind.

Except for the bed my son’s room is packed with four years of stuff. I won’t be able to help my son move it out of his room until I clean up the attic today. I can’t get into the attic until I move the mattress and bed spring that he brought back away from the door to the attic. And the attic is so cluttered from a winter of haphazard storing that it has to be cleaned up first. Then there’s cleaning the garage and the basement workroom…. There’s just no end of chores standing in my way of getting this Boyd book written.

At least the garden is finished and after last nights thunderstorms we should have four or five days of glorious weather. I just hope I’m not tempted to go agate hunting.

New tidbit to the Boyd story

After four days of uninterrupted gardening its good to get back to something else. Even if I stayed up way past my bedtime, golly its a quarter past midnight, I’ve added an interesting new tidbit to the Boyd story I’ve been working on.

Tidbits is what they are. I’m not ready for an entire chapter yet but I’ve got intriguing bits to start with. It will be interesting to see how I pull them all together in the end. This time a Republican features in the story.

The official source for all the blather of the eccentric Harry Welty – Duluth School Board member, off and on, since 1995. He does his best to live up to Mark Twain's assessment: "First God created the idiot. That was for practice. Then he invented the School Board."