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I'm a 68-year-old American who served in Vietnam as a naive 19-year-old kid. From that moment on, I've been studying and re-thinking what US counter-insurgency war means. I live outside of Philadelphia, where I'm a writer, photographer and political activist. I have been a member of Veterans For Peace for 30 years. I think America and Americans are living through a complex cultural and economic reckoning we do not fully understand. I'm convinced we, as Americans, need to re-evaluate who we are and, in the process, ratchet down the imperial world policeman role we too often take for granted. A nation of our size must stay engaged diplomatically in the world and protect ourselves from attack. But for our own good and the good of the world, we need to better look after our own nation's problems. I like good writing, good film, good music and good times. I drink alcohol and, yes, smoke a doobie now and then quite responsibly. I say this publicly because I think the Drug War is an abject and hypocritical failure. I taught writing in a Philly prison for 12 years and met too many poor, African American kids stuck in there for some stupid drug crime. I'm a committed pragmatist who actually subscribes to the old right-wing formula: My Country Right Or Wrong. When our government is wrong, which it is a lot of the time, I'm happy to say it. And I plan to stick around.
The Politics of Cruelty
The Trump actions separating families on the border are a perfect example of the politics policies on torture and the research on that topic. Corruption is becoming more and more normalized in today's world. Cruelty is the application of power without mercy.
Saturday, May 12, 2018(3 comments)
Welcome to the Apocalypse
These are weird times. On one hand, there's accusations of male abuse; then, we have to deal with someone like Gina Haspel and the US legacy of torture. John Bolton, Bibi Netanyahu and King Salmon are drum-beating for an invasion of Iran that feels like deja-vu. What's a poor antiwar activist to do?
Wednesday, March 28, 2018(3 comments)
Citizens Show Up to Tell a Do-Nothing Government Enough Is Enough
With the ongoing corruption of the National Rifle Association virtually owning the United States Congress and now with the ascendancy of war hawk John Bolton to the diplomatic post of Secretary of State, things are getting pretty damn serious. So the really big question is: How will this youth movement affect the mid-term elections coming in November?
Tuesday, March 13, 2018(1 comments)
Are We Living Under a Military Coup? (An Ironically Patriotic Essay)
Ex-general John Kelly as Chief of Staff in a chaotic White House is a hard-line military man with some far-right views. Masha Gessen says he talks in the language of the military coup. Given US history from 1933, when there was a plot against FDR that many have called a "coup" attempt, can we look at Kelly in a similar light?
Wednesday, January 31, 2018(2 comments)
I Nominate Donald Trump For Best Actor in a Reality Drama
Donald Trump's State of the Union performance was acting of the highest order. At least that's how deceased playwright Arthur Miller would likely see it. He literally wrote the book on it: it's called "On Politics and the Art of Acting."
Honor, Sacrifice and Imperial Duplicity
General John Kelly's press conference nicely symbolizes the quandary in which US leadership often puts members of our military. On one hand, it was bottom-up identification with the sacrifice of common soldiers like LaDavid Johnson. On the other hand, it was top-down demonization and attack against a manufactured "enemy." In the end, it was self-inflicted collateral damage.
Wednesday, October 11, 2017(1 comments)
Mandalay Bay: Top O' The World, Ma!
The consensus is that Las Vegas mass murderer Stephen Paddock is an enigma and it's impossible to conceive of a motive. We're told by the right it's too soon to get "political." Well, that's garbage. We know plenty, enough to do some responsible speculation on what drove this aging baby boomer to do what he did -- where he did it.
Friday, August 4, 2017(3 comments)
Me and The New York Times
I've been a leftist antiwar activist in the veterans movement for over 30 years. Lately, in this strange Trumpian moment, I find myself defending more and more the fact that I read The New York Times every morning. It's all very complicated. And that's the point. The Times is a flawed institution that's essential to countering the right ascendancy.
Monday, June 5, 2017(14 comments)
My Vietnam War, 50 Years Later
The New York Times ran an essay titled "Was Vietnam Winnable?", then refused to run a reasonable letter to the editor I wrote. This personal essay, then, got loose and I gave it all the rope it needed. The Vietnam War was a tragedy and a crime that never should have happened. It's time we in the US dealt with that reality.
Sunday, May 21, 2017(6 comments)
Jeff Sessions, Jesus Christ and Reefer Madness
Attorney General Jeff Sessions is getting tough on sentencing in an effort to return to the "great" days when mass incarceration was set in motion. This goes against decades of slowly-building reform on a local level. Sessions is especially focused on marijuana, the most harmless of illegal drugs. The absurdity of this is worthy of examination.
Wednesday, May 10, 2017(2 comments)
US Values, Moral Accommodation and Remembering Vietnam
Establishing meaning in the realm of war and peace is a major struggle in America. The power of facts and truth are undermined by the amazing flood of information we are all drowning in. As a Vietnam veteran convinced his war was wrong, the struggle is particularly acute. This essay runs that struggle down.
Saturday, April 15, 2017(8 comments)
President MOABA: Mother Of All Bullshit* Artists
Donald Trump is not preposterous or laughable anymore. The more you learn about him, the more opposing him must transcend satire. As an entertainer, his power comes out of the right brain, not the usual left-brain route of the lawyer, the soldier or the politician. He's a master bullshitter, and bullshit comes out of the right brain. That's where he should be fought.
Monday, February 20, 2017(5 comments)
On Killers and Bullshitters*
Donald Trump told Bill O'Reilly that the United States is not innocent and had a lot of killers in its history, something that angered John McCain. But in this strange case, the master bullshitter himself was telling a profound truth -- though the troubling part is he was not making a moral point that killing is bad.
Saturday, December 31, 2016(2 comments)
Likudist Israel Damned For Pursuing Its Version Of Manifest Destiny
A summary glance at history is good when it comes to Israel and the recent Security Counsel resolution to condemn Likudust Israel for its belligerent settlement policy. While it's world's and centuries apart and the scale is very different, Likudist Israel's desire for land expropriation shares a lot with US crimes of Manifest Destiny.
Friday, December 23, 2016(1 comments)
Morally Surviving America's War On Vietnam
You can look at Michael Uhl's just-published anthology of short works as a tool of memory in the War On Memory in US culture against the real truth about the US war against Vietnam. Donald Trump's Tweets tell us that respect for History is about to hit a new low. Books like this are culturally important.
Sunday, October 23, 2016(1 comments)
Humanizing Our Militarized Border
The recent Encuentro At the Border in Nogales, Arizona, and Nogales, Sonora, Mexico, called attention to our crazy, tragic militarized border. For me, it was a return to the Arizona/Mexico borderlands where I spent a year in the US Army 48 years ago. As I cruised the borderlands, I pondered some basic history. It's very clear: We need to begin to end the failed Drug War and to humanize our southern border.
Wednesday, September 14, 2016(3 comments)
Digging Up Truth With a Teaspoon
President Obama was called a "son of a prostitute" by the psychopath elected President of the Philippines; more important, he "acknowledged" what many see as US war crimes in Laos. Revealing and undoing US atrocities like Laos and absurd tragedies like the Drug War are not easy. It's often an asymetrical excavation struggle between a teaspoon and a huge dump truck.
Saturday, August 6, 2016(1 comments)
Hypocrisy, The New York Times Version
The New York Times is a great newspaper, but, like Dr. Jekyl had his Hyde, there's the imperial rag side of the Times. It came out in full force in an August 5th editorial trashing President Daniel Ortega in Nicaragua. The story is much more complicated -- and much more interesting -- than the Times tells it.
Friday, July 15, 2016
The Post-Dallas Kumbaya Window Begins to Close
After Dallas, there was a moment of coming together, for healing. But it is tested and may not last given the way some commentators like Sean Hannity spew hatred and make war instead of seeking unity. Meanwhile, Dallas Police Chief David Brown's fed-up remarks on how we ask cops to solve our social problems was a rare moment of clarity worth pursuing.