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BARBWIRE

The enemy within
by
ANDREW BARBANO
Expanded from the 5-29-2005 Daily Sparks (Nev.) Tribune.
Edited for the 6-3-2005 Comstock Chronicle

UPDATES
8-7-2005, 2-26-2006, 3-12-2006
TOLJASO: Party like it's 1929
BARBWIRE 8-12-2007
MORE: 7-5-2009, 8-2-2009, 9-4-2011

Back from the dead and ready to party: Smoot, smut and stash
Barbwire by Barbano / Expanded from the 1-31-2017 Sparks Tribune

"We have met the enemy and he is us."
— Walt Kelly's character Porkypine in the Pogo comic strip


More than a century earlier, philosopher Johann Wolfgang von Goethe said pretty much the same thing as the wise little critter from the Pogo comic strip. Goethe observed that we become what we despise, which brings me to us on this Memorial Day.

Our traditional start of summer is heralded by newspaper ads offering bargain prices on hot dogs and BBQ sauce set to the cacophony of furniture and auto dealers offering the greatest sales in history for three days only. Wrap it red, white and blue and sell, sell, sell. Whether an SUV, a sofa or a shooting war, the principles are the same: use the media to create the need in the minds of the susceptible and gullible. If it's on TV, it must be true, right?

TV news departments need to produce something to fill between all those commercials on a dead-news weekend. Barring another timely death of a princess, grouchy weekend reporters must content themselves with pictures of highway carnage smoothly transitioned to trumpeters trilling taps at some tombstones.

Memorial Day and all events like it are worthless to the already dead and can be quite toxic to the living. Witness the following bulletin from Republican Party National Committee Chairman Ken Mehlman: "Memorial Day weekend is upon us, a time when Americans pay tribute to those who made the ultimate sacrifice for the safety and security of our great nation. And as we reflect on our fallen heroes, we also honor our troops currently defending America and advancing freedom around the world." (1)

Wrap the war in the flag and accuse as a traitor anyone who fails to salute. Sorry, Mr. Mehlman, I won't stand for your pimping your war while standing on the graves of the fallen. The only way to stop killing is to stop killing.

I retch every time I hear someone say "never again" while tearfully commenting about some recent or ancient atrocity. The words repel because they have proven worthless.

People perpetually perpetrate holocausts large and small. Never again never comes. The only way to stop killing is to stop killing.

What poet e.e. cummings termed "this monster mannunkind" remains unevolved, primitive and tribal. All we seem to have gotten good at is building better ways to butcher. (2)

The only way to stop killing is to stop killing.

The American way of death becomes curiouser and curiouser. Our gruesome military-industrial money machine commands infinite quantities of blood and guts for lubrication.

"The purpose of a soldier is not to fight," war historian Gwynn Dyer once said, "the purpose of a soldier is to die." (3)

America is the land of disposable workers, military and civilian. For the profiteers, we provide a paradise of replaceable consumers, whether they expire via automobile, cigarette or AK-47. Between medical mistakes and dangerous prescription drugs, even trying to get well is fraught with peril.

There is no government spending more corrosive than war bucks because we get nothing in return for our capital investment. A tank does not plow a field to produce something, unless you count tilling military graveyards.

Our warlike ways warn of a perfect storm. Another major terrorist attack will throw this country into instant depression, but we may not be able to avoid economic collapse whether we get hit or not. As economist Paul Krugman noted in The New York Times last Friday (4), the dot-com bubble was replaced by the real estate bubble. Once the housing boom busts, he asserted that we have nothing else available to prop up a faltering economy.

World War II deficit spending and tax hikes are often credited for pulling the U.S. out of the Great Depression. But we have been on a full war footing for four years, so the military remedy will not be available come the next crash.

The ancient Mayans, who accurately predicted their civilization's destruction by Spain, have warned us about 2012. Nikolai Kondratieff (1892-1938), a Russian economist writing in the 1920s, issued similar medium range warnings. We are now at the edge of the fabled Kondratieff Wave which forecasts a cyclical tsunami, a major economic contraction followed by a flood of widespread destruction. (5)

I don't know if Krugman, Kondratieff and the Mayans will prove correct, but I am certain that the only way to honor the dead of war is to make no more.

The only way to stop killing is to stop killing.

Peace pays well. (6)

PLANTING THE FLAG. At 1:00 p.m. tomorrow, Sierra Interfaith Action for Peace will place more than 1,600 American flags in front of the Bruce R. Thompson Federal Building at the corner of South Virginia and Liberty Streets in downtown Reno.

The names of U.S. soldiers killed in Iraq since 2003 will be read aloud. I understand newscaster Ted Koppel will do the same on ABC's Nightline sometime in June. (7)

Calling the names of the more than 600,000 Iraqi civilians, mostly kids, executed as a result of our actions since 1991, would take somewhat longer.

Memorial Day is for remembrance, but we have lamentably forgotten to remember the lessons of past wars. (8)

The only way to stop killing is to stop killing.


Be well. Raise hell.


SMOKING GUNS

(1) "RNC Honors Our Troops And Veterans This Memorial Day"; RNC e-release, 5-27-2005

(2) "pity this monster mannunkind"; e.e. cummings (1894-1962)

(3) PBS Documentary series "War"; 1984

(4) Krugman, Paul; "Running Out of Bubbles"; New York Times column 5-27-2005

(5) Web search "Nikolai Kondratieff" for any number of sites about his long wave economic cycle       theory.

(6) Rinfret, Pierre A.; "Peace is Bullish"; Look Magazine, 5-31-1966

      BARBWIRE: Lemming Cliff Notes, 6-5-2005

      BARBWIRE: Payback Time, 8-7-2005

(7) Koppel actually did so on an extended edition on May 30, 2005.

(8) Group places 1,600 flags for fallen soldiers; Reno Gazette-Journal 5-31-2005

UPDATES
8-7-2005: The Wages of Sin
2-26-2006: Contents of the Bubble
3-12-2006: Brittle bones of the busted boom
9-4-2011: Princess Cassandra's neverending labor
Back from the dead and ready to party: Smoot, smut and stash
Barbwire by Barbano / Expanded from the 1-31-2017 Sparks Tribune

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Copyright © 2005, 2006, 2007, 2011, 2017 Andrew Barbano

Andrew Barbano is a 36-year Nevadan and editor of NevadaLabor.com. Barbwire by Barbano has originated in the Daily Sparks (Nev.) Tribune since 1988.

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