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Friday we go to the point a bit early, 10:30ish, and the back bar was empty and they weren't letting people downstairs yet. A few rounds of pinball and beverages later the joint was packed to the gills. They waited until they couldn't fit a fly in the back bar before opening downstairs and letting the crowd flood in for the Ultrababyfat CD release show. Just before midnight the show got started and it was swell! The girls were obviously having a blast and despite the usual guitar-heavy, can't-hear-the-lyrics mixing at the Point the newbies we brought enjoyed the show a bunch. The grand finale featured the entire family of everyone in the band, or damned close, hopping up and down on stage while the band didn't lose a beat.
Unfortunately, we were beat and had to beat a hasty retreat and missed the next act, The Christine Keeler Affair.
Saturday we caught a silly art show in the Highlands, one of those things that makes you walk out and go "OK.... THAT was a waste of time, now what?" A party in East Atlanta Village followed, more of a sit-down affair than Degenerate Press' gatherings. We headed over to the new bars in the Village only to find they were WAAY to pretentious for our taste. For you Buckhead types that want to be even MORE snotty....
Regarding the whole GM/UAW labor dispute: Anyone remember Eastern Airlines?
Meanwhile, back at HQ the debate continues with no signs of a cease fire!
Degenerate cranky sent us a lengthy response but, yet again, didn't really
sort out what was a response and what was the original so sift if you can:
[RVI] The US Army is the biggest welfare dodge to have ever seen the
> light of day; yet, as it is 'right-wing welfare,' our nation generally
> accepts its present form of existence as necessary and unquestionable.
> [Cranky] I'm not sure I quite understand this. What's a welfare dodge?
> Also, what is "right-wing" welfare?
[RVI] A 'welfare dodge' is simply when one receives money from the
government for, essentially, doing nothing -- it's a term I picked up in
the '80s from conservative radio talk shows where it was applied to
so-called welfare mothers, student grants and loans, etc. "Right-wing"
welfare, in my private lexicography, reverses the direction of the
criticism and questions the acceptability of government money spent on
conservative causes -- tax cuts and aid in relocating factories for
corporations, capital gains cuts, money for private schools via vouchers,
inflated payments to the arms industry, infrastructure preparations
at industrial parks, etc. I include the bloated US Army, in its present
guise, in the same category because it is kept at present size and
strength out of paranoia, PR, pork-barrel politics,and to float the
domestic arms industry.Yes. I agree, but what you say goes without saying really. Economics has
always been tied to war and vice versa.
[Cranky] > Yuppies, no matter what their job, will never be asked to
stand in front of
> oncoming projectiles to insure the stability and existence of the nation.
[[RVI] Too bad. They might be inclined to make different sorts of
business decisions if they did. However, as I recall when our 'fighting
folk' went to the alleged Gulf War (I say 'alleged' because I am not at
all sure it was a war; it was rather more like a blown out of proportion
skirmish), there was nothing out of the mouths of the soldiers except
complaints, reluctance, second guessing their officers, and so on til the
military got them away from the civilian press.
You make as if this was different in other times. For the most part (the
regimental system of European armies aside as you note below) soldiers
aren't a very contented lot. They do tend to bitch and moan and carry on
because generally they are in pretty sorry situations. Even the British
Expeditionary Force in The first World War was rife with desertions and
mutinies. In fact, it was the mutiny of almost the entire French army late
in the war tht forced Allied command to change their strategy of "war by
attrition" where it was not uncommon to see casualties of over 100,00 in
HOURS. Imagine that, Twice as many men that America lost in the Vietnam
conflict, lost in HOURS. Conditions for soldiers are generally not good thus
the bitching. I don't see how that supports your argument.
I was not struck by any
esprit d'corps, backbone, or whatever one wishes to call it. Compared
with, say, the British soldier of Kipling's day, there has been a decline
or degeneration (ha) in what it means to be a soldier. Tough? Well
armed and armored, I'll grant you (we sure as hell paid enough for that),
but I don't believe our soldiers are tough except possibly in the
relative fashion you pursued in your argument: e.g. Our soldiers are
tougher than yuppies. Which does not prove the point you want to make.
I'm not sure that was my entire argument but the example that you raise is
not one that can be compared easily to the American model of army
organization. The Regimental system of European armies was much more of a
way of life with all of the bondings and Esprit d' corps or whatever you
want to call it. The thing that happens when men are expected to join the
army and spend virtually all of their time together in a system that is
meant to foster those qualities that you outlined.You may not find those sort of bonds from the soldiers that served in the
gulf mostly because they did not go through a so called "trial of fire" that
those in previous wars such as Vietnam did. The pentagon lists the
casualties for the attacking US forces in the gulf ground war at somewhere
500. And most of those were from friendly fire incidents or accidents. The
qualities that you say are lacking are not there just for the reason that
men tend to develop those qualities as a defense against the horrors of war.
Generally speaking those horrors were not prevalent in the Gulf war.
> [Cranky] > Now, before you think me some jingoist waving a flag around
> un-erring good sense of the US military, know that as a military historian
> understand that the system is deeply flawed. I am only trying to get
> that while flawed, it is not unworthy of respect from citizens such as
[RVI] Understood. Please grasp that I am not utterly anti-military,
either! My difficulty lies here in 2 things - 1. the belief that the
military precedes the Constitution,
I don't think that it does. Other than in the ways that Eisenhower warned
about in his "Military-Industrial Complex" speech (the root of many of your
and 2. that simply because we've
shook the big stick at some 3rd world nations our military is what it
ought to be -- that it can hide behind advertising slogans and pretend
But the fact of the matter is that they have to do that. They have not been
proven in any other way. And for the most part there won't be an opportunity
for the type of prolonged ground conflicts that will "prove" the mettle of
How I got off on argument 1. isn't clear by now -- I
think it was the bit about the freedoms being guaranteed by the Army.
More on that in a second.
> [RVI]> First, the Special
> Forces men, for example, there were NOT draftees and they were the FIRST
> men in Vietnam - as battlefield advisors to the South Vietnamese.
> Secondly, I'd put my money on ANY of the men who served in Vietnam before
> I'd even consider the 'toughness' of one of our pampered, present day
> 'volunteers' whose great accomplishments include the aborted Iran Hostage
> mission, the invasion of the truly terrifying nation of Grenada, the
> possibly illegal invasion of an ally - Panama - in order to arrest one
> man, and the ridiculous overkill involved in invading the 4th world power
> of Iraq.
>[Cranky] I think you are confusing political and strategic
>maneuvers (or blunders) with the tactical efficiency of the US armed
forces. In every one of those conflicts that you mention, the military
units involved, for the most part, completed their missions with extreme
efficiency and tactical prowess.
[RVI] Come now; you're employing a false dichotomy, or at least a
distinction which leads nowhere in the way of analysis or explanation.
So what if the military units completed their missions with 'efficiency'
and 'tactical prowess'? How difficult were the missions to begin with???
While Iraq's forces were nowhere near as technically advanced as ours or
even as well trained, this was the third largest army in the world and had
succeeded in wiping out whole generations of Iranians in the previous
Iran-Iraq wars. They were not to be taken lightly.Tactical effeciency is excercised _within_ the context provided by
political/strategic decisions. My point was that the Special Forces
units in Vietnam and Laos had an extremely difficult set of tasks which
they set themselves to with great effectiveness, the general outcome of
the conflict notwithstanding. Now, the Iran mess, Panama, Grenada, nor
the great Gulf War even vaguely resemble what faced our people in
Vietnam; the situations were nowhere near as complex; in the Gulf War we
were not committed EITHER as a nation OR as a military to a genuine war;
we adopted a policy of blitzkreig followed by nigh complete withdrawl,
etc. Our fighting force is no longer trained for the WWII-style
battlefield or Vietnamese-style guerilla war -- we now have a policy of
'get in an get out', precisely because BOTH military leaders and
politicians have given up on America and the American soldier as 'tough
enough' to fight in a protracted conflict. This is my perception, at any
I think that this would be an incorrect assessment. In fact, I tend to
believe that our political figures have more confidence in today's fighting
man than in the vietnam era. The distinction is that our leaders don't
believe the American people have the Stomach for a prolonged war where it
sees it's sons and daughters come home in boxes every week. And they are
right. That more than anything is the reason for more a "blitzkrieg" method
of war. Other reasons may be the different tactical doctrines that have
developed since 'Nam concerning air power and it's use.
A military which can do everything but which has poor leadership
and a poorer sense of what it is supposed to defend is still a poor
military, not one deserving of either appelation -"tough" or "smart."
And the head of the US military, as you know, is the President - so
separating the political from the 'purely' military decision may be
useful in classroom mlitary science or in political science, but in
reality, there can be no cleavage between the military decision and the
political one. Both either obey or violate the same principles.
[Cranky] Whether we should have been in these places in the first place
> another matter. But if you take the time (as you urge HGB to) to do a
[RVI] Where, praytell? Give us some resources -- I'm just a van driver,
for God's sakes, not some academic weighted down with knowledge (as
should be apparent).
There are plenty of resources online just to start. I was thinking more of
the library though. Many of John Keegan's works such as "The Face of Battle"
or "The history of Warfare" are pretty good reads and not too taxing on the
noggin.[Cranky]... you would understand that the US armed forces are every bit
as> "tough" as eras past. If not more so. The tactics and the doctrines
have changed but to say that present day soldiers don't deserve respect
because> they haven't been to a conflict that you deem worthy of respect
is a little> shortsighted IMHO.
[RVI] Then color me myopic. For the reasons given above (and a zillion
or two more) I disagree. Honor is earned, not awarded with the BDUs.[RVI] Vietnam Vets deserve respect, no matter what one thinks of that
> conflict they went to, as they have EARNED it.
> [Cranky] Again, I have a hard time understanding the basic difference
between the > Vietnam conflict and the Gulf War. Why does participating
in one make a > soldier worthy of your respect while the other one
[RVI] The Gulf War wasn't a war. It was a propaganda spectacle designed
A. to show the world 'who's boss'
You can say the same about Vietnam couldn't you?
while B. keeping gas prices cheap for
You think there weren't economic concerns with Southeast asia?
I'm not disagreeing, but you must understand that Vietnam was not an
ideological conflict against communism in and of itself. That would be a
little simplistic. and C. keeping the re-solidification of the country begun by
the Reagan Revolution underway - a booster-shot of patriotism and a new
set of bad guys to replace the ones just lost in the dying of the Cold
War. While in a measure of peril, our men were never in _great_ dangerYou might not want to say that to the families of the people who came home
without a heartbeat. They numbered in the thousands.
-- our generals advised against pushing on into Baghdad where there would
have been major resistence. And then we got the Hell out of Dodge as
soon as the dust cleared.... Hardly a fighting force - from the top down
-commited to anything beyond a minor scrap.
I'm not sure if you can call the commitment of over 200 different units up
to Division size a "scrap".
In terms of combat, the Air
Force deserves the respect from that rumble, I'm afraid, not the Army.
>[RVI] And then there's this gem concerning " ...our Army (whose
> presence, if not allways it's actions, have preserved our freedoms
> (including the right to say anything you want)...." Do the words 'Four
> Dead in Ohio' mean anything to you, HGB? I guess they didn't encourage
> historical studies when you were doing all that PT, right? You mean to
> tell me that you have no recollection that 4 students got gunned down in
> an unprovoked massacre by National Guardsmen at Kent State in the late
> '60s? Unarmed people, utilising their 1st Amendment rights, protesting
> the use of Napalm on children and research by DOW Chemicals (makers of
> Napalm) at Kent State labs, got mowed down by a US Military unit gone out
> of control. And why the military had to be there - 'protecting' free
> speech - is a mystery to me, as free speech usually tends to itself
> pretty well in the USA.
>[Cranky] The Guardsmen were there at the behest of the Governor of Ohio. A
> [RVI] A civilian who, by our laws, is also HEAD OF THE GUARD OF HIS
Exactly. That was my point. You were saying that the military should always
be commanded by a civilian as if this would somehow make it any less likely
to commit fuckups like Kent. My point was that even when it is controlled by
a civilian politico, it can fuckup.
[Cranky]> I agree that they shouldn't have been there however to say that
the National Guard (undertrained, poorer cousins of the standing army -
hint hint)> intentionally shot these people down is irresponsible. You're
not saying > that right?
[RVI] They didn't go there with that in mind, from what I've read, but
there was certainly a degree of indoctrination or atmosphere all military
types at the time were steeped in which had it that all protestors were
hippies, tools of communism, drug addicts, and threats to the country.
You know the story. The Guardsmen got scared, charged, and shot 4
students... in the back. ( I suppose had the better-trained cousins, the
Infantry, been there, 400 would have been expertly put away?)
My point was not the efficiency of the killing but rather that the Guard is
not really trained for that sort of situation and that a better trained
force (not necessarily the army) might have been disciplined enough not to
get scared and shoot some kids in the back.[RVI] If that example of the danger of the military to
> the freedom of the citizen isn't enough, go look up the Hoover
> administration in a good encyclopedia; you will find there an article on
> how, when the WWI Vets marched on Washington in order to recover the
> monies owed them from service in that war, Hoover called out Gen. Patton
> who, in turn, let loose armed regular Army troops on unarmed US Vets and
> employed tanks in the streets of this nation's capital to chase them out
> of town. People got killed.
>[Cranky] Again I think you are confusing the policies of civilian leaders
>with the performance of the army in and of itself.
[RVI] Oh - the Army was o.k because it _efficiently_ walked all over its
objective - unarmed civilians?
No; you're missing what I mean. The US
soldier is sworn to uphold the Constitution, and so on. This means, as
the Trials at Nurnburg and the Lt. Callie case point up, that the soldier
is best a soldier when he is able to resist an illegal, immoral command.
Stomping the vets in the D.C. Hooverville was, at best, a questionable
act. If our Army had been led aright, I think the General would have
resigned his post before following such a damnable command and he'd have
encouraged his men to do likewise.
I agree with you in the best of worlds that would be correct. But can't you
see that that was not a viable alternative for these men. Believe me, you
can find memoirs of soldiers who thought the exercise to be a terrible thing
to do. You can't tell me that every one of those men was a cold hearted
bastard indoctrinated to kill fellow americans. There were other forces at
work that compelled those men to obey orders that they thought were wrong.
Including ALL of their trainnig up to that point.
Yet the tendency of our army is to
follow all orders, no matter how ridiculous; it enshrines orders and
hierarchy and sloganeering
This is the effective definition of an army.
in the place of thinking and in the place of
the Constitution, which was the whole point of having an Army. No, we
don't want soldiers making up their own objectives or deciding to
suddenly abandon protocol frivolously; but we do need more training in
Constitutionality and ethics for the soldier, to drive home the point
that the soldier is citizen first, soldier second. Nothing else will do.
Again I agree that that would be a great thing but other than the citzen
soldiers of Ancient Greece, there just isn't evidence of that EVER happening
in history. Autonomous thinking is the opposite of everything that a soldier
[RVI] The Army, HBG, is always, at best, a
> necessary evil, which has to be kept under strict civilian control
> [Cranky] Like the governor of Ohio.
[RVI] That's why we elect them, unelect them, and can impeach them. The
military has far too much freedom in this reguard.
>[Cranky] What you say is true. But I think a baser truth is that without
> Forces there would be no free speech to stifle in those limited instances
> where it has happened.
[RVI] I say that without the freedoms in the Constitution and promised by
the Bill of Rights, our military would be moot.
I don't know if Washington would have agreed with you in the dark years
BEFORE the constituition was drafted when his army was the ONLY thing that
kept the colonies from being subject to English rule.
It would just be another
gang of overpaid terrorist thugs, and God knows we've plenty of those,
yet. But our freedoms and our rights precede our military in priority
and give the military purpose -- though, as I've said, I don't think that
purpose is being lived up to at present. I want an Army which is
something more than a PR gimmick or an extenton of a corporate need for
cheap petrolium or a training camp for South American Death Squads and
dictators. I want an Army that actually lives up to itself for once.
Until then, I cast a cold eye on it.
Does anyone else hear black helicopters?
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