Nothing in this blog can be believed. If you think that anything in this blog is true or factual, you'll need to verify it from another source. Do you understand? No? Then read it again, and repeat this process, until you understand that you cannot sue me for anything you read here. Also, having been sucked into taking part in the mass-murder of more than 3 million Vietnamese people on behalf of U.S. Big Business "interests", I'm as mad as a cut snake (and broke) so it might be a bit silly to try to sue me anyway...

Friday, June 29, 2012

What Would Jesus Say?

As some of you might have guessed by now, I have a wee bee in my bonnet about the Vietnam war.

As a result, I have, in the past, found myself receiving psychiatric treatment and psychological counselling from a government approved and funded treatment facility called St John Of God Hospital run by a tentacle of the Catholic church.

As a result of this past association, I receive, at about this time every year, an invitation to a gathering of veterans at said hospital.  Here are excerpts from this year's invite:

"You are warmly invited" ( to their Vietnam Veterans Day) "Service of Celebration"

"We look forward to sharing this important celebration with you."

They requested I send them an RSVP email.  So I did.  This is what I said:

Dear RSVP,

I would be pleased to attend, but alas, only in the role of guest reader of the sermon at your "Service of Celebration" on 2 August 2012.

Here is a summary of the sermon I would deliver:


Celebrating the killing of four million people, most of them civilians, in Vietnam, Laos and Cambodia, in what has rightly been called The American War.

Celebrating our erstwhile government's toadying up to the American Empire by sending our troops into that war.   

Celebrating the Christian churches' tacit (and sometimes not so tacit) support for this war, their blessing of the troops, and their celebration of those poor sods' "service" (to a foreign power) every Anzac Day, Veterans Day, and Remembrance Day.

Celebrating the 500 dead Aussies.

Celebrating the thousands of Aussies wounded.

Celebrating the tens of thousands of Aussies psychologically scarred for the rest of their lives.
Meditating upon the teachings of Jesus.  (A reading of the Sermon On The Mount would precede this.)

Meditating upon what Jesus might say about the evils of capitalism and the beauty of socialism.

Meditating upon what Jesus might say about all this celebrating and justifying and glorifying of war.

Meditating upon what Jesus might say to the Christian churches making millions (from the public coffers)  from the treatment and care of veterans of wars the churches failed to adequately oppose.


The sermon would then be followed by a rousing rendition of Onward Christian Soldiers during which the veterans would be encouraged to jangle their war medals to simulate the sound of tambourine accompaniment.

Please let me know soonest regarding my offer of reading the sermon.

Happy celebrating, guys.

Gerry (......)
Vietnam veteran and peace activist.

Sunday, June 17, 2012

Requiem For George

Last November my partner and I bought our tickets for this year's Blue Mountains Concert Society's programme.  One of the performances we (she) had chosen to experience was by the Sydney Chamber Choir.

Yesterday, realising that we were going to that event in the evening, I decided to familiarise myself a bit with what we were in for.  So I threw myself into the interwebs, and thus the penny dropped about why the venue chosen for this event was a Catholic Church.  It was to be a performance featuring Duruflé's Requiem.

Well, as long-time readers of this blog would know, on a good day I'm an agnostic and on a bad day I'm an atheist, so when I saw that I was in for an evening of listening to liturgy and funeral music in a Catholic Church, I went nuts.   At first.  And then the second penny dropped.

Last Wednesday, George, a friend, passed away.   What better way to reflect on the memory of George than during a Requiem Mass designed to assist the spirit's passage to the eternal light. 

Æternam habeas requiem.  May you have eternal rest, George.

Friday, June 15, 2012

Like Paradise

On the ABC news last night, an Aussie soldier being interviewed about the conditions on Kandahar Air Base in Afghanistan, uttered this gem:

"It's like paradise really.  We've got KFC, and F-18's flying overhead."

Tragically, I could not detect even a hint of irony when he said that.  The guy appeared to mean it, 100%.

Is that the level of intellect we're now recruiting into our army?  Then again, that's probably the level of dumbness you need in order to convince them that the Afghanistan war is:-

[1]   Necessary.
[2]   In Australia's best interests.
[3]   Good for the Afghan people.

I was equally dumb when I believed the exact same crap fed to me about the Vietnam war.

Plus ça change, plus c'est la même chose.

Sunday, June 10, 2012

I Must Be Deluded

I was listening to a talk on delusion the other day.  The speaker made the following points when outlining psychiatry's meaning of delusion:

[1]  An individual is deemed to be deluded when he believes something which is considered to be untrue or unreal by his group, religion, society, or culture.

[2]  The beliefs and realities of a group, religion, society, or culture are exempt from being labelled deluded.


Tuesday, June 05, 2012

Good Guys, Bad Guys...

Have you noticed how attrocities are only ever committed by the "bad guys"?

Have you also noticed that the "bad guys" invariably think of themselves as the "good guys"?

Noam Chomsky explains >>>>

Monday, June 04, 2012

It Started With A Book...

... a book about a 2002 CIA "rendition" and the subsequent interrogation of a person suspected of being a member of al Qaeda and close to Osama bin Laden.

... a memoir of Glenn L. Carle, the CIA case officer in charge of the interrogation.

... a very interesting read.

But after reading it, I grew restless...

I wanted to discover a bit more than I was allowed to, due to the CIA having heavily redacted the manuscript.  I wanted to know who "CAPTUS" was and whether he was guilty or innocent.  I wanted to know the locations of the secret interrogation centres.

So I went to the internet and eventually obtained some satisfaction.

Cutting through the crap of the CIA's ridiculous and pointless redactions:

"CAPTUS" was a Hawala banker named Pacha Wazir.  He was, by and large, an innocent bystander in the bigger game played by al Qaeda.

The intitial CIA interrogation was probably conducted in a compound run by the Moroccan Secret Service near Rabat (in Morocco.)

"Hotel California" was a "black site", known for the use of torture, probably the one known by the CIA codename "Salt Pit", located a short distance north of Kabul, Afghanistan.


[1]   Truth Out: CIA Kidnapped, Tortured "the Wrong Guy"

[2]   Harper's Magazine:   Unredacting “The Interrogator”

[3]   Harper's Magazine:   "The Interrogator": Six Questions for Glenn Carle

[4]   Wikipedia: "Salt Pit"

Sunday, June 03, 2012

The NSA Is Watching You

"Three targeted Americans:  A career government intelligence official, a filmmaker, and a hacker. None of these U.S. citizens was charged with a crime, but they have been tracked, surveilled, detained—sometimes at gunpoint—and interrogated, with no access to a lawyer."

From an article in Democracy Now, by Amy Goodman with Denis Moynihan.

Read the article >>>

[Thanks to  Diogenesian Surfer for the heads-up on this.]

Obama - George W Bush on steroids?

A couple of quotes from an interesting article in the Guardian:

"Obama did not reverse what Bush did, he went beyond it. Obama is just able to wrap it up in a better looking package. He is more liberal, more eloquent. He does not look like a cowboy," said James Bamford, journalist and author of numerous books about the NSA including 2008's The Shadow Factory.

 A clause was added to the National Defence Authorisation Act that had such a vague definition of "support of terrorism" that journalists and political activists went to court claiming it threatened them with indefinite detention for things like interviewing members of Hamas or WikiLeaks.


Let's see...

I have donated money to WikiLeaks.   Does this mean those insane self-appointed Rulers Of The Universe, the Yanks, can now "rendition" me to some god-awful place and keep me locked up indefinitely, or torture me till I recant my assertion that Obama is an insane megalomaniac who's lost all touch with reality?

Read the Guardian article >>>

Saturday, June 02, 2012

Obama's Vietnam bullshit #1

OK, readers, you get first bite at the cherry.

 I'll give you one week to comment on what you think is bullshit in Obama's speech (previous post) before I bore you to death with my opinions.

Go !!!

Obama's Memorial Day Speech

On May 28, 2012, US President Obama gave the following speech at the Vietnam Memorial in Washington. I've made the transcript a separate blogpost so as to embed it in this blog. I will be deconstructing this wonderful piece of propaganda in subsequent posts. Please don't comment in this post; you'll get plenty of opportunity to comment in my future posts on this speech.

 Good afternoon, everybody. Chuck, thank you for your words and your friendship and your life of service. Veterans of the Vietnam War, families, friends, distinguished guests. I know it is hot. (Laughter.) But you are here — to honor your loved ones. And Michelle and I could not be more honored to be here with you.
It speaks to the complexity of America’s time in Vietnam that, even now, historians cannot agree on precisely when the war began. American advisors had served there, and died there, as early as the mid-’50s. Major combat operations would not begin until the mid-’60s. But if any year in between illustrated the changing nature of our involvement, it was 1962. It was January, in Saigon. Our Army pilots strapped on their helmets and boarded their helicopters. They lifted off, raced over treetops carrying South Vietnamese troops. It was a single raid against an enemy stronghold just a few miles into the jungle — but it was one of America’s first major operations in that faraway land.
Fifty years later, we come to this wall — to this sacred place — to remember. We can step towards its granite wall and reach out, touch a name. Today is Memorial Day, when we recall all those who gave everything in the darkness of war so we could stand here in the glory of spring. And today begins the 50th commemoration of our war in Vietnam. We honor each of those names etched in stone — 58,282 American patriots. We salute all who served with them. And we stand with the families who love them still.
For years you’ve come here, to be with them once more. And in the simple things you’ve left behind — your offerings, your mementos, your gifts — we get a glimpse of the lives they led. The blanket that covered him as a baby. The baseball bat he swung as a boy. A wedding ring. The photo of the grandchild he never met. The boots he wore, still caked in mud. The medals she earned, still shining. And, of course, some of the things left here have special meaning, known only to the veterans — a can of beer; a packet of M&Ms; a container of Spam; an old field ration — still good, still awful.
It’s here we feel the depth of your sacrifice. And here we see a piece of our larger American story. Our Founders — in their genius — gave us a task. They set out to make a more perfect union. And so it falls to every generation to carry on that work. To keep moving forward. To overcome a sometimes painful past. To keep striving for our ideals.
And one of the most painful chapters in our history was Vietnam — most particularly, how we treated our troops who served there. You were often blamed for a war you didn’t start, when you should have been commended for serving your country with valor. You were sometimes blamed for misdeeds of a few, when the honorable service of the many should have been praised. You came home and sometimes were denigrated, when you should have been celebrated. It was a national shame, a disgrace that should have never happened. And that’s why here today we resolve that it will not happen again.
And so a central part of this 50th anniversary will be to tell your story as it should have been told all along. It’s another chance to set the record straight. That’s one more way we keep perfecting our Union — setting the record straight. And it starts today. Because history will honor your service, and your names will join a story of service that stretches back two centuries.
Let us tell the story of a generation of servicemembers — every color, every creed, rich, poor, officer and enlisted — who served with just as much patriotism and honor as any before you. Let’s never forget that most of those who served in Vietnam did so by choice. So many of you volunteered. Your country was at war, and you said, “send me.” That includes our women in Vietnam — every one of you a volunteer. Those who were drafted, they, too, went and carried their burden — you served; you did your duty.
You persevered though some of the most brutal conditions ever faced by Americans in war. The suffocating heat. The drenching monsoon rains. An enemy that could come out of nowhere and vanish just as quickly. Some of the most intense urban combat in history, and battles for a single hill that could rage for weeks. Let it be said — in those hellholes like Briarpatch, and the Zoo and the Hanoi Hilton — our Vietnam POWs didn’t simply endure; you wrote one of the most extraordinary stories of bravery and integrity in the annals of military history.
As a nation, we’ve long celebrated the courage of our forces at Normandy and Iwo Jima, the Pusan Perimeter and Heartbreak Ridge. So let us also speak of your courage — at Hue and Khe Sanh, at Tan Son Nhut and Saigon, from Hamburger Hill to Rolling Thunder. All too often it’s forgotten that you, our troops in Vietnam, won every major battle you fought in.
When you came home, I know many of you put your medals away — tucked them in a drawer, or in a box in the closet. You went on with your lives — started families and pursued careers. A lot of you didn’t talk too much about your service. As a consequence, this nation has not always fully appreciated the chapter of your lives that came next.
So let us also tell a story of a generation that came home, and how — even though some Americans turned their back on you — you never turned your back on America. Like generations before you, you took off the uniform, but you never stopped serving. You became teachers and police officers and nurses — the folks we count on every single day. You became entrepreneurs, running companies and pioneering industries that changed the world. You became leaders and public servants, from town halls to Capitol Hill — lifting up our communities, our states, our nation.
You reminded us what it was like to serve, what it meant to serve. Those of you who stayed in uniform, you rose through the ranks, became leaders in every service, learned from your experience in Vietnam and rebuilt our military into the finest force that the world has ever known. And let’s remember all those Vietnam veterans who came back and served again — in the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. You did not stop serving.
Even as you succeeded in all these endeavors, you did something more — maybe the most important thing you did — you looked after each other. When your government didn’t live up to its responsibilities, you spoke out — fighting for the care and benefits you had earned, and, over time, transforming the VA. And, of course, one of these Vietnam veterans is now our outstanding Secretary of Veterans Affairs, Ric Shinseki.
You looked after one another. You cared for one another. People weren’t always talking about PTSD at the time — you understood it, and you were there for each other. Just as importantly, you didn’t just take care of your own, you cared for those that followed. You’ve made it your mission to make sure today’s troops get the respect and support that all too often you did not receive.
Because of you, because our Vietnam veterans led the charge, the Post-9/11 GI Bill is helping hundreds of thousands of today’s veterans go to college and pursue their dreams. Because of you, because you didn’t let us forget, at our airports, our returning troops get off the airplane and you are there to shake their hands. Because of you, across America, communities have welcomed home our forces from Iraq. And when our troops return from Afghanistan, America will give this entire 9/11 Generation the welcome home they deserve. That happened in part because of you.
This is the story of our Vietnam servicemembers — the story that needs to be told. This is what this 50th anniversary is all about. It’s another opportunity to say to our Vietnam veterans what we should have been saying from the beginning: You did your job. You served with honor. You made us proud. You came home and you helped build the America that we love and that we cherish.
So here today, it must be said — you have earned your place among the greatest generations. At this time, I would ask all our Vietnam veterans, those of you who can stand, to please stand, all those already standing, raise your hands — as we say those simple words which always greet our troops when they come home from here on out: Welcome home. Welcome home. Welcome home. Welcome home. Thank you. We appreciate you. Welcome home.
Today, we’re calling on all Americans, and every segment of our society, to join this effort. Everybody can do something. Five decades removed from a time of division among Americans, this anniversary can remind us of what we share as Americans. That includes honoring our Vietnam veterans by never forgetting the lessons of that war.
So let us resolve that when America sends our sons and daughters into harm’s way, we will always give them a clear mission; we will always give them a sound strategy; we will give them the equipment they need to get the job done. We will have their backs. We will resolve that leaders will be candid about the risks and about progress — and have a plan to bring our troops home, with honor.
Let us resolve to never forget the costs of war, including the terrible loss of innocent civilians — not just in Vietnam, but in all wars. For we know that while your sacrifice and service is the very definition of glory, war itself is not glorious. We hate war. When we fight, we do so to protect ourselves because it’s necessary.
Let’s resolve that in our democracy we can debate and disagree — even in a time of war. But let us never use patriotism as a political sword. Patriots can support a war; patriots can oppose a war. And whatever our view, let us always stand united in support of our troops, who we placed in harm’s way. That is our solemn obligation.
Let’s resolve to take care of our veterans as well as they’ve taken care of us — not just talk, but actions. Not just in the first five years after a war, but the first five decades. For our Vietnam veterans, this means the disability benefits for diseases connected to Agent Orange. It means job opportunities and mental health care to help you stand tall again. It means ending the tragedy of veterans’ homelessness, so that every veteran who has fought for America has a home in America. You shouldn’t have to fight for a roof over your heads when you fought on behalf of the country that you love.
And when an American does not come back — including the 1,666 Americans still missing from the Vietnam War — let us resolve to do everything in our power to bring them home. This is our solemn promise to mothers like Sarah Shay who joins us today, 93 years old, who has honored her son, Major Donald Shay, Jr., missing in action for 42 years. There she is. Sarah, thank you for your courage. God bless you.
This is the promise we’re fulfilling today to the Meroney family of Fayetteville, Arkansas. Forty-three years after he went missing, we can announce that Army Captain Virgil Meroney, III, is coming home, and he will finally rest in peace.
Some have called this war era a scar on our country, but here’s what I say. As any wound heals, the tissue around it becomes tougher, becomes stronger than before. And in this sense, finally, we might begin to see the true legacy of Vietnam. Because of Vietnam and our veterans, we now use American power smarter, we honor our military more, we take care of our veterans better. Because of the hard lessons of Vietnam, because of you, America is even stronger than before.
And finally, on this anniversary and all the years to come, let us remember what binds us, as one people. This is important for all of us, whether you fought in the Vietnam War or fought against it, whether you were too young to be shaped by it. It is important that our children understand the sacrifices that were made by your troops in Vietnam; that for them, this is more than just a name in history books. It’s important that we know the lesson of a gift once left at this Memorial.
It was towards the end of the day, and most of the tourists and visitors had departed. And there it was — a football helmet, black with white stripes, and a wristband. And with them was a handwritten note. And it was from a young man, still in high school. And mind you, this was more than two decades after Vietnam. That high school student was born years after the war had already ended. But in that short, handwritten note he captured the reverence — the bonds between generations — that bring us here today.
The letter began, “Dear Vietnam Veterans, here are two things from me to you that I think you should have.” He explained that it was his helmet from midget football and his wristband from his senior year. So today I want to close with the words he wrote:
In these two pieces of equipment, I was allowed to make mistakes, correct them, grow and mature as a person. However, that was on my battlefield. You didn’t get the chance to do that on your battlefield. Some of you were forced to grow up too fast; all of you died too soon. We do have many things in common, though. We both have pride, heart and determination. I’m just sorry you guys had to learn those qualities too fast. That is why I’m giving you what I grew up with. You are true heroes and you will never be forgotten.
That’s from a high school kid, born decades after the end of the war. And that captures the spirit that this entire country should embrace.
Veterans, families of the Vietnam War, I know the wounds of war are slow to heal. You know that better than most. But today we take another step. The task of telling your story continues. The work of perfecting our Union goes on. And decades from now, I hope another young American will visit this place and reach out and touch a name. And she’ll learn the story of servicemembers — people she never met, who fought a war she never knew — and in that moment of understanding and of gratitude and of grace, your legacy will endure. For you are all true heroes and you will all be remembered.
May God bless you. May God bless your families. May God bless our men and women in uniform. And may God bless these United States of America.