Thursday, May 25, 2006

Another Rambling Post

This graphic links to Torture Awareness.

I started attending the University of Pittsburgh in the fall of 1973. While there I became quite active in the Pitt (the shorter name for University of Pittsburgh) YMCA. The Y didn't promote the C part much, the central effort of the organization was to place student volunteers in social service and community-based organizations. The YMCA paid for a director, a wonderful man, who patiently organized students and taught them to organize; such that with the exception of some pesky paperwork required by the downtown YMCA the organization was effectively student-run.

Next door to the YMCA office in the William Pitt Union building was The Office of Veteran's Affairs. There were many veterans from the Vietnam War attending school then.

I wasn't allowed coffee at home, and the Y director was smart to keep a pot of hot water in the office for coffee. I discovered that coffee nd sugar staved off the the inconvenience of actually eating. And people smoked a lot then. I used to loiter in the hall with the director of the Vets office. PTSD hadn't been named back then, but we all knew there was trouble. Exacerbating the situations was that returning Vietnam era Veterans were not welcome at many American Legion and VFW Posts. The general hostility towards Vietnam Veterans weighed heavily on the Veteran's Affairs Office director.

What's in common parlance now, especially as we in the American public are constantly being exhorted to "stay the course" in Iraq, is that veterans returned home from Vietnam to the ridicule and hostility from their dirty, smelly, hippie peers. Things were a little more complicated. Not the least of the complications is that so many of the veterans were pissed-off, generally so, and the government of the good ole USA was an easy target.

I know veterans of the Vietnam War, hardly a number sufficient a scientific sample, still it surprised me that in the run up to the Iraq War when one of my acquaintances and Vietnam Vet was so much in favor. Oh it wasn't so much that, as his outrage towards Americans in opposition to the invasion and occupation that stood out. War wounds often never heal. He apparently held the American public responsible for the failure in Vietnam and would broke no discent this time around.

One way or another the majority of American public opinion has come around to thinking things aren't going well in Iraq. I'm afraid we're still skirting the issue; most of us really haven't come to grips with the damage done.

Woldoog's diary at Daily Kos on Sunday moved me and I've been trying ever since to think of posting something about it.
Like some of you, I am an adult child of a combat veteran. My combat-veteran father has severe, debilitating PTSD. His war devastated him, and subsequently, our family. His experience in Vietnam nearly forty years ago, when I was nary a twinkle in his eye, helped shape the person I am today, and for a long time, I have wanted to know and feel the things that did this to him, and to me. I had gathered bits of puzzling information here and there over the years, but as I got older and achieved a truer understanding of the impact of his war on him and our family, I realized that I needed to hear his story in its entirety, that I needed to hear the unmentioned details that would meld the story into a complete whole.
Especially if you're an American baby-boomer like I am, read go and read the whole thing.
"What happened to you?" He seemed startled by my inquisitiveness, and I told him that if it made him feel bad to tell me, he didn't have to. He then said something that surprised me - he told me that I had caught him off guard, that he was pleased that I wanted to know, that he thought I should know, and that no one in the family had ever asked him like that before.
No one had ever asked! Woldoog cannot heal her father's wounds, and perhaps it's our sense of helplessness rather than a lack of inquisitiveness that leads us to never ask.

A year or so ago I was with a friend and a cousin of hers she hadn't seen for a very long time and the subject of her cousin's service during the Vietnam War came up. The fellow told of his hardships suffering under a psychotic commanding officer. Both me and my friend's jaw dropped as he proceeded to tell his story, but all of this was Stateside. Being shipped off to Vietnam came as a relief to him. His duty in Vietnam was confined to Saigon. It was hot and his bureaucratic job was deadly boring, and not much to remark about. My friend said, "All these years I've carried the image of you in a foxhole with jungle rot." has pictures of the Iraq War, uncensored. My friends know that I hide my eyes at movie violence. It even seems out of character for me to suggest a visit there and to look, but I do. SBS Television, New Zealand released photographs in February of this year from Abu Garib. The photographs and videos are put in context in an excellent report available to watch online.

Election campaigns here in the USA are long. Our State primary elections were held earlier this month. The race in a near by Congressional district pits Jack Murtha and Diana Irey. Murtha is a retired US Marine Corps colonel and is the highest ranking Democrat on the House committee that make military appropriations. He's also been a somewhat unlikely opponent of the war. Irey is a well-known Republican politician in local politics.

Murtha on the basis of discussions with high-ranking sources within the military disclosed last week that a probe into the events leading to the deaths of 15 un-armed Iraqi civilians, will show that U.S. Marines "killed innocent civilians in cold blood."

Irey took the stage at the Press Club on Wednesday and said:
John Murtha was a patriot. ...But many years have passed and I say again my opponent has lost his way because the comments and actions of late are not that of a patriot. Rather they serve to aid and comfort our enemies.
The "aid and comfort" bit is a direct accusation of treason.

The war weighs on me. In another smart diary at Daily Kos elendil discusses reactions to seeing the movieThe Road to Guantanamo. Worth a read in it's entirety, but this comment about how torture impacts far beyond those tortured resonated:
The spectator cannot simultaneously conceive of themselves as a mere spectators and maintain trust in the world. For our own self-preservation, we begin the process of distancing, rationalizing, and justifying the torture. In extreme cases, to maintain our own innocence, we denied that any crime had taken place.
I'm an American, and we've gone nuts. I'm perplexed as to how to proceed. Murtha isn't in my Congressional District, so I won't get to vote for him. I hardly think he's lying about what military people have told him about the probe into the incident in Haditha. But tonight I looked over pages of links to blogs amplifying Irey's remarks. Many people are convinced that Murtha is lying and are eager to convince others.

For almost two weeks I've been mulling over MMK's post about the Addis Abba bombings in particular and terrorism in general.
Terrorism’s great evil is in considering a stranger’s life expendable in a cause that is at most indirectly connected to that person. Whether you are bombing a ‘target’ from thousands of feet in the air knowing that you will kill a stranger or swinging a machete at them or blowing yourself up with him, the evil is in not knowing what you have brought to an end. What gross ego to consider that single life with its incalculable threads of obligation and love and hope to be irrelevant to the ideas and feelings swimming around inside you.
Initially what came to mind wasn't politics at all but feelings surrounding my brother's murder years ago: "the evil is in not knowing what you have brought to an end."

I'm not a particularly good person. I mean, being good has always seems an effort, and I'm so lazy. As a boy in church confessing "things we have done and things we've left undone" it was the latter that burned in my stomach. In almost every discussion of politics here nowadays someone always makes the accusation: "Bush hater." I don't know, hatred is too much work for a lazy man like me. Anger, fury wells up in me, sometimes over the stupid little things, I never seem to be able to sustain that long enough to hate. Ah, but the sin of indifference, closing my eyes, turning away so as not to hear, oh dear. But I see clearly how wrong that is.

I'm not religious, but want to join with religious people in mending the world. I want to join with non-religious people in mending the world. And in that my first step is to try to listen more and to look harder.

Finally, and off topic, in my morning newspaper was an editorial in re and ongoing cholera epidemic in Angola. On first reading I slapped the pages down in anger at the Post-Gazette. I was thinking: Angola's a rich country you say, except for the greedy rich. Oh yeah: What about Lee Raymond's golden parachute! It was a silly reaction, but my advice to myself: listen and look is easier said than done. Koranteng Ofusu-Amaah's writing is the best and his April installment of Things Fall Apart series was Angola. If you haven't yet discovered his Koranteng's Toli go there when you have some time to read. His post, Angola and his series Things Fall Apart gets to how complicated everything is.

It's the time of year for commencement addresses. The Aga Khan's address at the School of International and Public Affairs at Columbia University is very wise.


elendil said...

Wow, I didn't know anyone was hearing me. It's nice to know that what I'm saying is resonating with others. It can feel awfully lonely otherwise.

Did you want on the blogroll? You can fill in the form here, or email me.

woldoog said...

I thank you for noticing my diary, and I am pleased to have found your blog. Best wishes.

chancuff said...


(Click all the links, or you'll get/be lost.)

Cliff Hancuff
The World of Journalism Is Flat, Too

Kaunda said...

Hello Cliff Hancuff. Thank you for visiting my blog and leaving a comment.

I'm afraid that even by clicking all the links as you recommended that I still got lost. Clearly you are angry and adept at vituperation.

I think we are all trying to make sense of a changed landscape and know that mistakes have been made all along the way. Now the questions are what where the nature of the mistakes and how to we guard against further mistakes going forward?

I would like to recommend two sources of intelligent insight and conversation which I think you may enjoy.

First is Col. Pat Lang's blog Sic Semper Tyrannis 2006 and second is John Robb's Global Guerillas

In particular Robb's recent post Rationalizations and Warfare asks the important question about of the American invasion and occupation of Iraq: "[W]hether or not our maximalist goals in Iraq could ever have been achieved given the capabilities of the opposition and the limited levels of commitment we were able to bring to to bear on the problem?"

chancuff said...

"Swift Boat Veterans for Themselves" ignored a couple issues CRITICAL to our troops at war during the run-up to the 2004 election.

First, they sat silent knowing full well that Bush NEVER USED the number of troops he incessantly claims his generals asked for. Turkey would not allow the 40,000 troops of the 4th to pass through and participate in Bush's invasion of Iraq.

Bush waged war KNOWING our troops were 40,000 short.

Second, these same Lookatme! Showboaters sat silent when this very same troop shortage resulted in America's greatest tragedy of the war in Iraq.

EVERYONE who's ever gone through basic training knows that when you find your enemies weapons, you keep them secure.

Hundreds of tons of high explosives that our troops had captured at Al Qaqaa were abandoned specifically due to troops shortages, CREATED by Bush's incompetence in war.

These explosive stolen from Al Qaqaa are the weapons that have been used to blow our troops into too many parts to count each and every day of this war.

When some pasty butt wimp, like Larry Bailey of, decides to pass his "gimme' some money" collection plate to support his concept of patriotism for a circus tent performance at The Cambria County War Memorial on October 1st of this year ...

Some would say there's nothing more patriotic than putting a moron who's never given a hoot about our troops at war (or he would have spoke up about those 40k troops left behind and Al Qaqaa IN 2004) in his proper place ...he's a coward.

To make matters even MORE entertaining, Larry Bailey actually thinks having John O'Neill, the original Lookatme! Show Boater, as his surprise guest speaker is a feather in his cap.

You may not like the stand John Murtha has been making, but for anyone who supports our troops at war, there's no way to respond to these idiot Swiftboaters' Reunion in Murtha's home town of Johnstown, Pa, than a chorus of Bronx raspberries.

I hope this clarifies.

Cliff Hancuff
The World of Journalism Is Flat, Too
Things are JUST NOT GOING WELL for the folks at the "Diana Irey for Congress" camp.

Diana Irey Press Release UPDATE!
(read first 4 posts, the rest if you fancy to)
(click all links found in post, or you will get/be lost)

chancuff said...

Things are JUST NOT GOING WELL for the folks at the "Diana Irey for Congress" camp.

Diana Irey Press Release UPDATE!
(read first 4 posts, the rest if you fancy to)
(click all links found in post, or you will get/be lost)

chancuff said...

Larry Bailey of's private email address can be found at the top of this letter. Take a moment to drop him a note to ask if he's going to cut&run from my challenge.
For some samples of Diana Irey's Cut&Runs, go here:

Subject: RE: Iraqi Governemt Kicks Dubya's "Stay the Course" TO THE CURB!
Date: 9/14/2006 10:16:18 A.M. Eastern Standard Time
From: JournalismIsFlat
CC:,,,,,,,,, JournalismIsFlat,,

It's "Show Time", wimp.

Cliff Hancuff
The World of Journalism Is Flat, Too

chancuff said...

As most who attended the rally know, I was there. After the dust had cleared created by some moonbat among the bootmurtha crowd who called in a fake police report that a fight had broken out, Larry Bailey came out to speak with me.

I complimented him from the bottom of my heart for the contributions he has made to our country's national security while he was serving active duty in the US Navy.

He made it clear my request to speak would not happen. He then proceeded to suggest he has no memory of the email he wrote me on 8/20/2006 2:59:30 P.M. Eastern Standard Time stating that our current Commander in Chief made stupid mistakes in Iraq.

Larry then proceeded to illustrate stupid mistakes made in passed wars. After he mentioned 3 or 4 examples I interjected that there is a difference between those wars and this one.

In the past it took weeks, months, sometimes years for mistakes to be discovered and reported. Today is the information age where mistakes are reported within hours of their occurrence. I reminded him this war was still going on. I also reminded him of the glaring mistakes he had acknowledged President Bush had made in Iraq, and our respective use of the Internet to support our respective views and that is where our conversation ended.

I waited outside the Arena with a Johnstown police officer who had stayed behind after the bootmurtha hysterics caused 3 squad cars and a sergeant to arrive with sirens blaring. I was debating Steeler football with him when a motorcycle officer stopped by, who had been inside. When I asked how many were inside he said, "not many at all" When I asked "500?", he responded, "na ... well maybe 500, at most."

At the end of the event when Larry Bailey came out for a photo op next to the sign on the sidewalk outside the War Memorial Arena. I handed Larry the speech I had waited to deliver. He put it in his outside left coat pocket.

This is my speech Larry Bailey has in his coat pocket ... the words he was not man enough to let me say:

"Please join me in Prayer.

Heavily father we pray today for you to continue to protect the men and women of the armed forces of the United States and other countries who are in harms way in Iraq, Afghanistan, and other countries throughout the world. We thank them and their families for their sacrifices.

We pray for the souls of those who have made the ultimate sacrifice in all wars. We pray for strength and courage for the POWs and MIAs and those held hostage.

We pray for protection and safety of relief workers helping those in need.

We pray for the protection of children and innocent civilians. Lord we especially pray for our nation and our leaders."

Below you will find the press release that went out on October 29th of this year.

CONTACT: Cliff Hancuff
September 29, 2006 (202) 247-1418

"American troops could be home now, except for critical mistakes made by our current Commander in Chief," charges Cliff Hancuff, Director of The World of Journalism Is Flat, Too.

"Media and right-wing bloggers are ignoring this fact. For weeks I have been challenging political activists and journalists to act with a minimum of ethical standards," continued Hancuff.

"I became involved when the Sun-Sentinel in Florida reported that Rep. John Murtha (D-Pa.) said the U.S. poses the top threat to world peace. I watched in dismay as the media and bloggers worldwide reported on this misquote."

"My involvement continued when I discovered Diana Irey, John Murtha's political opponent, had attacked Murtha using a fictional quote attributed to Abraham Lincoln."

"Larry Bailey of is continuing his three year blind support of our current Commander in Chief's incompetence in war. President Bush declared war in Iraq without the 4th Infantry, our most lethal, modern, and deployable heavy division in the world," added Hancuff.

This mistake lead to the atrocity of Al Qaqaa. Iraqi insurgents stole hundreds of tons of high explosives to be used as weaponry.

"These are the explosives being used by Iraqi insurgents and al Qaeda to perpetuate the war in Iraq."

"I am distressed that the same issues ignored by Swift Boat Veterans for Truth in 2004 are being ignored again in 2006," said Hancuff adding, "Americans, American soldiers, and their families deserve better."

"Without these critical mistakes made by our current Commander in Chief, our American troops would be home with their loved ones, with honor, right now."

On October 1, 2006 Hancuff be at the Cambria County War Memorial Arena located in Johnstown Pennsylvania for Larry Bailey's Swiftboating of John Murtha rally. It is there Hancuff will continue his wait for Mr. Bailey to recall the values of honor and integrity taught him by our US Navy.

There is a video online at:

YouTube - Rovian Architecture Unplugged

The World of Journalism Is Flat, Too
(202) 247-1418