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Revisiting the lessons of WWI

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Kalgoorlie remembers WWI
(image by Bob Patterson)

The quaint old days when political disputes could be a topic for a lively conversation are long gone because these days folks are living in a binary choice world. The question isn't about how to describe a glass that is filled to 50% capacity with water. Either the glass is full or it is empty. Did President Obama trip and spill the glass on the carpet? Wasn't the Bush legacy a full glass?

The journalists operating in Washington D. C. can only hope to curry favor with their "sources" by running propaganda information which will (theoretically) win some genuine scoops in return for the favor. In fact, isn't all that it gets the gullible player, an invitation to the next exclusive party and another chance to choose which propaganda to run? Pundits out in the boondocks don't even have the chance to score a scoop on good propaganda material. All the rubes can do is to try to get off a good one liner or make an intuitive guess about a taboo topic.

Hitler said in "Mein Kampf" that true believers shouldn't ever (not even one time) admit that there was a grain of truth in the argumentation offered by the opposite team. With that advice in mind during 2014, the public discussions of items in dispute will closely resemble the images of the "no man's land" in WWI era trench warfare. There won't be any common ground. There won't be any truce on Christmas Day. With that set up, the liberal pundits will never make a single point with the compassionate, conservative, Christian Republicans all they can do is to ridicule Uncle Rushbo and his clones.

Should liberal pundits preach to the choir or try to goad trolls into posting "your mother wears combat boots" assertions in the comments section?

Fox is either the only sane source for information of a political nature or it is a one sided farce of lies, opinions and propaganda which would make Joseph Goebbles weep with envy.

No gray scales ever! Life has become a series of coin flip judgments. No middle ground. Binary choices only from here on out. History has become gelatinous and if you are not inclined to do extensive research at the local library, you might just as well flip a coin when pondering events that outrage liberals and amuse and reassure compassionate, Christian conservatives.

If women and children get killed while machine guns are used to control striking (pro Communist?) workers, that's a regrettable example of collateral damage before that bit of spin terminology was created. Will conservative owned media side with the workers when it comes time to run stories about the 100th anniversary of the Ludlow Massacre?

If drones were not available to bomb Mexico after a diplomatic slight of Uncle Sam, then naval bombardment just had to do. It's not bloody well likely that the media will take a 100 years look back at the Tampic Affair and have any more sympathy for the civilians killed by collateral damage there than they do for the collateral damage that might accompany a modern day drone strike.

If American parents felt a smug superiority about being safe, a century ago, from a conflict on the opposite side of the Atlantic Ocean over an assassination in a place called Sarajevo, the feeling would only last until the bankers and capitalists saw an opportunity for war profiteering. If massive profits were available, then the inspiring patriotic sloganeering at the decisive moment would magically appear and then it was time to sing; "we won't be back 'til it's over, over there."  

Hitler lavished praise on short slogans and catchy phrases, because when he was writing about a verbal knockout punch; bumper stickers had not become ubiquitous.

After a large number of Australian troops were slaughtered because of the assassination of a fellow at Sarajevo, the leaders of Australia declined the opportunity to send troops that far from home again in WWII. They informed the British Prime Minister that the Australian troops would only be used to defend Australia. American politicians didn't learn that lesson.   (Our photo illustration for this week is a file photo of the WWI memorial statue in Kalgoorlie Western Australia.)

When America became involved in World War II, the Republicans immediately made the political moves to revoke the overtime pay laws because they didn't want it to seem like workers were guilty of war profiteering with the massive amounts of extra pay that would be necessary during WWIL. They did not, however, say anything about the need for charging for cost overruns. It was assumed that thee would be a need to exceed the budgeted amounts that were part of the fight for the Four Freedoms (Can you name all four?) in the free world. If a defense Industry had cost overruns should capitalists eat the shortfall or should the taxpayers (who were being drafted) pick up the tab? Don't taxpayers usually get treated like the fellow in the song that says "Six rounds were bought and I bought five!"?

Isn't there an old political maxim that says a capitalist is always right and that workers can always be assumed to have Communist sympathies?

Will American troops be sent back to Iraq? Will American troops be sent into South Sedan? When will American troops be sent to bring Democracy to Syria?

Len Dighton in a non-fiction book about the follies of war, titled "Blood, Tears, and Folly," described how the troops in WWI were motivated to charge into the machine gun fire of the troops defending the German line. He said that a fiendishly clever method called the "creeping barrage" was used. According to Dighton, the British Artillery would start a bombardment in back of the British lines and slowly walk it up to the British trenches. The occupants were free to choose to stay there or join with their comrades (can we change that word to "mates"?) in running into the hail of machine gun bullets being sent their way.

The folks back home didn't get the particulars about the creeping barrage. They were only given the stories about the brave lads who were fearless while charging at the German lines.

Did General Douglas MacArthur get the nick name "Dugout Doug" in WWI?

General MacArthur was ordered to depart from the Philippine Islands by President Roosevelt in early 1942. He followed orders and left 78,000 members of the American military behind. He got the Medal of Honor. The others were left to contend with the rigors of the Death March. During his stay in Australia, he became known as "Dugout Doug."

Republicans have one version of the events at Ludlow, Veracruz, and WWI. Democrats have a very different interpretation of the same episodes. You can find both versions online.

The diametrically opposed assertions "The glass is empty!" vs. "It's full!" mean that fair and balanced journalism methods will soon be applied to the study of history and it won't be necessary to read either version. Voters will know what version they will believe will be based on their political philosophy and so political debate will be unnecessary and irrelevant during 2014.

Apparently, the World's Laziest Journalist will have to settle for finding non controversial information and facts that are amusing and entertaining and let the election results speak for them selves in 2014 and again in 2016.

Wouldn't columns featuring information such as the fact that silent era comedian Charlie Chaplin was the director of a 1967 movie starring Marlon Brando (The Countess from Hong Kong) be non controversial and of equal interest to both Republicans and Democrats with curious minds?

Edward Grey when assessing the outbreak of WWI, said: "The lamps are going out all over Europe, we shall not see them lit again in our lifetime."

Now the disk jockey will play Hank Williams Jr.'s "I got rights," the Beatles "Run for your life," and "Snoopy and the Red Barron." We have to go see if corporatocracy is a legitimate word. Have a "how you gonna keep "em down on the farm" type week.

 

BP graduated from college in the mid sixties (at the bottom of the class?) He told his draft board that Vietnam could be won without his participation. He is still appologizing for that mistake. He received his fist photo lesson from a future (more...)
 

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