A recent news item caught my eye: “Whiteman Air Force Base [in Missouri] to salute health care workers with flyover on Tuesday: Flyover will include B-2 Spirit Stealth Bomber, four T-38 Talons and two A-10 Thunderbolt lls.” New York City had its own flyover by the aerial demonstration teams of the Navy and Air Force. “America Strong” was the theme of the latter.
Isn’t it curious that we celebrate our life-saving medical workers with flyovers by warplanes that are designed to take life? And, regarding the B-2 stealth bomber, a life-taker on a truly massive scale, since it’s designed for nuclear warfare.
Maybe there’s a weird form of (unintentional) honesty here. We use death-dealing machinery to celebrate life-preserving medical workers, highlighting a bizarre cult of death in America, one seemingly embraced and advanced by Donald Trump’s policies on Covid-19, among other policies working against the health and welfare of ordinary people.
As Tom Engelhardt notes in a new piece for TomDispatch.com, Trump is only America’s latest assassin-in-chief, but this time the killing is happening here in the homeland, rather than being exported to Iraq, Afghanistan, and other countries across the globe. Speaking of violence coming home, together with homeland insecurity, is there any other country in the world in which gun sales have soared during this pandemic? From an article in The Guardian:
Estimated gun sales also soared to 2.58m in March, Small Arms Analytics and Forecasting reported, an 85.3% jump from the same time last year.
An explosion in gun sales during a pandemic suggests something about the American psyche that is truly scary. So too do combat jets screaming in the skies as a celebration of heroic lifesavers.
30 thoughts on “America’s Bizarre Cult of Death”
Whiteman was one of my last jobs in the Air Force in August 1972, just before leaving in November, finishing my four years. I was in the 1st geodetic survey located in Cheyenne, Wyoming and we (surveyors) were always out somewhere on TDY. That August I was in Whiteman to certify “geosensors” which were hatbox sized and shaped mechanism with gyroscope insides which sensed the rotation of the earth to get true north for purposes of targeting Minutemen missles. That was one of our jobs, updating positions at missle sites (latitude, longitude, elevation, gravity and azimuths to aiming points), which would now be performed by the geosensors.
Okay, that was my way-back memory / diversion. Actually I meant to start with my first reactions to the flyovers. The joint flyover with the Thunderbirds and the Blue Angels in NYC and others to come and now I read about the B2 flyover. A ton of good money wasted on fuel alone, not to mention training, and crews and all the other items which go with any flight at thousands of dollars per hour per plane, just for fuel alone.
If they really wanted to do something to fight COVID or honor frontline workers, they would lockdown their flights and donate the money to PPE’s, meals and other things truly needed. I can just imagine being a health worker at hazard of the invisible virus, with inadequate PPEs and seeing these yahoos burning through the sky somehow, supposedly honoring me. How about just helping me, I would be thinking. Same if I were a grocery-store worker, another frontline.
The other thought was Dwight Eisenhowers 67 year old speech (16 April 1953) “Chance of Peace.”
I looked it up again looking for the exact words from the center of that speech. Copied here:
Every gun that is made, every warship launched, every rocket fired signifies, in the final sense, a theft from those who hunger and are not fed, those who are cold and are not clothed.
This world in arms is not spending money alone.
It is spending the sweat of its laborers, the genius of its scientists, the hopes of its children.
The cost of one modern heavy bomber is this: a modern brick school in more than 30 cities.
It is two electric power plants, each serving a town of 60,000 population. It is two fine, fully equipped hospitals.
It is some fifty miles of concrete pavement.
We pay for a single fighter plane with a half million bushels of wheat.
We pay for a single destroyer with new homes that could have housed more than 8,000 people.
This is, I repeat, the best way of life to be found on the road the world has been taking.
This is not a way of life at all, in any true sense. Under the cloud of threatening war, it is humanity hanging from a cross of iron. These plain and cruel truths define the peril and point the hope that come with this spring of 1953.more than 8,000 people.
This is not a way of life at all, in any true sense. Under the cloud of threatening war, it is humanity hanging from a cross of iron.
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That second “more than 8,000 people “after the “1953” snuck in during a copy and paste. It is from a few sentences above. Pardone.
I sat shaking with chills when I read your post, with tears in my eyes. You have nailed it, sir.
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Powerful- lest we forget……
The McMega-Media did not or more likely did not want to see the grand scale of this hypocrisy, celebrating life with war planes of death at an enormous cost.
Corona Testing for the Proles – Sorry Proles, here is a chump change one time $1,200 check, now sit down and shut up. By the way you people go back to work or starve, especially those of you that work in meat packing facilities.
Look up in sky, We are #1, Yahoooo.
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It’s disgraceful and heartbreaking that you are exactly right.
1. Given the military’s less than sparkling response to the current viral unpleasantness, I’d say there is more than a little irony here.
2. And what’s with this “(fill in the blank) strong” nonsense? It ranks right up there with “thoughts and prayers” and “it is what it is” in the list of Dumb Things People Say, and conveys as much emotional support as a TV cop who says “Sorry for your loss.”
3. And no, I haven’t received my stimulus money yet, either.
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I have commented before on the revulsion this kind of military display fills me with, so I’ll restrict this comment to the following: Once upon a time, a regime took over Germany, annexed Austria and then tried to conquer the whole world. In a sense, it was a death cult. Its Special (killing) Service actually wore a “death’s head” (depiction of a human skull) as its emblem. With pride in their efficiency in carrying out their mission. Again I very highly recommend you seek out the German movie “Downfall,” starring the late Bruno Ganz as Hitler.
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Although the displays you describe are beyond appalling, Mr. Astore, they make perfect sense in the Bizarro World that is the United States in the 21st century. We are living in Orwell’s 1984, only worse than he imagined it.
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My hat goes off to you Mr wjastore and MIKESTRONG33 (twice) and ZOONORTHZOHOCOM …may the great spirit of the universe have mercy on us all.
The mention of gun sales also reminds that “freedom” is now celebrated at many right-wing protests by armed men, equipped with web gear like military contractors , intimidating those around them. Violence, or the threat of it, is our national ethos. Thanatos – the Greek god of death – has become our civic god.
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Great point. When did “locked and loaded” become a sign of freedom? Indeed, being dressed like a mercenary suggests a lack of freedom, for mercenaries are at their employer’s whim.
Of course, Trump is very big on mentioning the 2nd Amendment. Protect gun rights! But he never mentions the others, and attacks fundamental freedoms such as the freedom of the press.
So, modifying the Beatles, Freedom is a warm gun.
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It is a statement about the ultimate sacrifice. The military (who more than any other profession, pay the ultimate sacrifice) honoring civilian roles that are stepping up to do potentially do the same. Interpret the statement of flyovers as “For the current crisis, you are not doing it for the money. You are doing it for the right reason, and with courage. We salute you.” And the increase in gun sales? Another statement…about freedom.
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That’s putting a charitable spin on it. But what medical workers really need is PPE. More pay. More help. Safer working conditions. Flyovers get them nothing, if indeed they even have a chance to see them, which I doubt.
Buying guns? Hardly a sign of freedom. More like a sign of being afraid. Or of being “prepared,” but for what? Looting? Home invasions?
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Just checking in on your buying guns comment above…
TomO: I’m not sure what your point is. Can you explain?
I’ve just learned this is “Military Appreciation Month”. When did this go into effect? Anyone have any big plans?
This has truly gotten out of hand. I expect there will be a flood of TV appeals to donate to the Wounded Warrior Foundation whose existence wouldn’t be necessary if the government had done right by the people it never misses an opportunity to exploit for “patriotic purposes” (public relations to you and me). Whatever happened to the VA?
So much for the “heroes’ welcome” and, oh yeah, thanks for your service …
I’ve long been anti-war but never anti-military (it’s possible to be both) and the hypocrisy of the government (both sides of the aisle) when it comes to the military disgusts me.
Good gawd, it’s worse than I thought. Did you know May 1st is “loyalty day”? Here’s a description: “Loyalty Day kicks off our Nation’s month-long celebration of military appreciation. It is a day set aside for the reaffirmation of loyalty to the United States, and to reflect on the proud heritage of our American freedom.” Let’s not think about workers and labor on May Day! It’s “loyalty day” instead.
And here’s a description of NMAM: “National Military Appreciation Month (NMAM) is celebrated every May and is a declaration that encourages U.S. citizens to observe the month in a symbol of unity. NMAM honors the current and former members of the U.S. Armed Forces, including those who have died in the pursuit of freedom. The month of May is characterized by six national observances which highlight the contributions of those who have served.”
“Celebrated every May”? Since when? I’ll be 66 in 9 days and this is the first I’ve heard of it. And when was the last time someone in uniform “died in the pursuit of freedom”?
This is so Warsaw Pact/Third World … o tempora, o mores!
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They die to preserve the freedom of US mega-corporations to exploit other folks’ resources all over the globe. That’s what the game has been about since 1898. The two World Wars, were they “good wars”? Because twice Germany tried to become the major power on the planet? It is now recognized by mainstream historians that WW I was a struggle among European nations over who would be chief exploiter of colonized nations on other continents. Only twenty years after that one concluded, Germany again started to seize other territories by force. Again, the US hesitated to get involved on the European continent. Different story in the Pacific, where the combat was horrifyingly grim, as Japan had decided IT should dominate the region. Had the US mainland not essentially annexed “the Sandwich Islands” (the Kingdom of Hawaii) via gunboats, there would have been no naval base at Pearl Harbor for Japan to attack. How many US residents, once informed of atrocities committed by German and Japanese aggressor armies, were troubled enough by those reports to be enthusiastic to go to war over that issue back in those years? Surely a minority, I reckon. But the US Ruling Class could not sit idly by while others carved the globe into their own spheres of exploitation. Thus, the US entered both those wars. A dandy irony of history that the “need” to pillage and murder on Vietnamese soil was sold to the US public partially by CIA seeding of rumors (“reports”!) that “Communists” were “torturing and murdering” Catholics in the northern part of Viet Nam! Need I mention Saddam Hussein’s “Weapons of Mass Destruction”??
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I seem to recall that for a while May Day had been marked as “Law Day,” because after all, we are a Nation of Laws, right? We would never tolerate a POTUS who daily flouts all the laws and traditions on the books about what is proper and not proper conduct in that office, right? Heavens no!! The “Loyalty Day,” of course, was instituted post-9/11. Sort of a package deal with the Patriot Act, which essentially consigned some of our most critical Constitutional individual freedoms to the trash can. As I noted in my earlier comment, this is all so much stuff and nonsense since “we” now “recognize” that anyone who dons a uniform is a damned HERO.
Once upon a time Armed Forces Day was celebrated around mid-May. Many of us on active duty called it Armed Farces Day. Instead of having Sat. afternoon off–after BS inspections, or policing up cigarette butts, etc.–we had to parade down nearest Main Street (I’m talking about troops stationed here at home, of course, not in Viet Nam!), and some military installations were opened to the general public so they could ooh and ahh at the hardware on display. I also never got the memo that now all of May is devoted to worshipping the military, but it’s not surprising. This is Amerika, after all. It’s not surprising, and it’s also just another layer of absurdity, since we are bombarded 24/7/52 weeks a year now with pro-military propaganda.
This is from England but equally applicable here….
This is an excellent read about “War on the Virus”……
More on the BS about military flyovers:
As the Serbs said during the Clinton bombing of Belgrade when they shot down one of these US “stealth” aircraft: “Sorry. We didn’t know it was invisible.”
Leaving aside the U.S. military’s chicken-choking, jet-jockey-jerk-off, masturbatory exhibitionism as typically pointless and pathetic, I think it a better use of time and attention to read Philip Giraldi who has a pretty good introductory paragraph in a recent article that lays out the real point of all this Cold War Twice nonsense: Why Both Republicans and Democrats Want Russia to Become the Enemy of Choice [my emphasis added]:
“One of the more interesting aspects of the nauseating impeachment trial in the Senate was the repeated vilification of Russia and its President Vladimir Putin. To hate Russia has become dogma on both sides of the political aisle, in part because no politician has really wanted to confront the lesson of the 2016 election, which was that most Americans think that the federal government is basically incompetent and staffed by career politicians like Nancy Pelosi and Mitch McConnell who should return back home and get real jobs. Worse still, it is useless, and much like the one trick pony the only thing it can do is steal money from the taxpayers and waste it on various types of self-gratification that only politicians can appreciate. That means that the United States is engaged is fighting multiple wars against make-believe enemies while the country’s infrastructure rots and a host of officially certified grievance groups control the public space. It sure doesn’t look like Kansas any more.”
All true about the “bipartisan dogma” known as Russia-gate. And as for the “host of officially certified grievance groups [that] control the public space,” I’ll leave it to Michael Tracey to dispose of a currently virulent one in his Twitter feed:
@mtracey “The politicization and weaponization of sexual assault/sexual harassment is such a horrendous cultural shit-show — it’s almost impossible to deal with any aspect of it rationally, and it makes everyone involved look like hypocritical, vindictive, mud-slinging partisans.”
That “horrendous cultural shit-show” deserves another discussion in another thread but only to answer two questions: (1) Why launch this type of attack now? and (2) Who seeks to benefit from launching it? Somehow, I don’t think that Donald Trump figures in the answer.
As a reference for those who care about nagging details and such, I append here Michael Tracey’s Twitter feed on the subject of “believing” (and which may have a bearing on the answers to the two questions I outlined above):
@mtracey We should “believe” women with a demonstrable pattern of public lying — not just lying in general, but about the specifics of the allegation? OK, good luck with that.
@mtracey It seems like a lot of the “progressives” relentlessly hammering the liberal hypocrisy point think that we SHOULD in fact “Believe Women.” Is that the standard you’re advocating? Turns out, we really should “Believe All Women”?
@mtracey If you don’t care at all about whether the alleged rape actually occurred, and care solely about the hypocrisy/double standards angle, then I have to question your moral priorities. “Did the rape happen” seems more important than whether Alyssa Milano is intellectually consistent
@mtracey Sexual assault is a grave crime and thus has to be evaluated as rationally as possible. Unfortunately, evaluating such crimes through the prism of a left/liberal professional class Culture War movement achieves the exact opposite effect
@mtracey You have some exceptions around the margins. A handful of conservatives got destroyed too: mostly those who also travel in circles otherwise dominated by left/liberals. But for the most part this was an inter-left phenomenon [emphasis added], which is why they’re always the ones self-destructing
@mtracey Left/liberals, many of whom privately believed the charges being leveled were often hysterical and irrational, nevertheless had to publicly concede in solemn tones that they were “taking them seriously.” Meanwhile conservatives could just dismiss them outright
@mtracey Ironically, though the mania was clearly spawned by left/liberal reaction to 2016, most of the casualties were *themselves* on the liberal/left. Media, Hollywood, Democratic Party, etc. (Kavanaugh fiasco is in its own special, toxic category)
@mtracey The “conversation” around MeToo was always driven by left/liberal media elites traumatized by the 2016 election. So if you ever expected rational, consistent standards to be applied, you were fundamentally misreading the situation: traumatized people don’t reason logically
@mtracey The problem with MeToo is that it was always an elite left/liberal social project rather than anything structural or substantial [emphasis added]
@mtracey It should go without saying that every sexual assault victim doesn’t need to be perfectly consistent for their claims to have merit, but in evaluating the credibility of a specific allegation, repeated inconsistencies clearly have to be taken into consideration
@mtracey Tara Reade’s description of the complaint she claimed she filed in 1993 has now changed significantly. And in 2019, she told the AP that she walked into the relevant Senate personnel office, but “chickened out” and left
@mtracey The neighbor purportedly told about the assault in 1995 or 1996 says prior to coming forward to Business Insider as a corroborating source, she spoke to Tara Reade several times on the phone. Yesterday, she told Democracy Now that she now finds Biden “very believable”
@mtracey Chris Wallace is generally regarded as a fair interviewer and wouldn’t be instinctually defensive of Biden. So I’m curious to know what motivated Tara Reade to cancel this interview:
@mtracey People keep telling me variations of: “It doesn’t matter whether this actually happened. All that matters is the hypocrisy.” Wow, that’s a pretty morally impoverished perspective. I do view potential rape as the morally salient detail. But I guess that’s now considered quaint
@mtracey I think it’s important to go through these details as rationally as possible. And I’m not doing it as a hypocritical “Believe All Women” freak, but rather as someone interested in knowing the truth about whether a person running for president committed rape
@mtracey In her initial interview, Tara Reade claimed she told only three people about the alleged assault: her mother, her brother, and one friend. Later, a neighbor claimed Tara Reade told her about the assault two or three years after the fact. What explains this discrepancy?
@mtracey Whether Joe Biden — for the first and only time in his life as far as we’re aware — cornered someone in a public hallway and raped her, to me is mainly an empirical question. I want to know whether it really happened. I understand others have different priorities and agendas
@mtracey According to the Seattle University magazine item from 2009, Reade “testifies in criminal cases as an expert witness about domestic violence.” Yet she still publicly lied about the circumstances of her alleged assault, knowing the credibility issues that would inevitably raise?
@mtracey I didn’t reflexively “believe” the Kavanaugh allegations either, so don’t try battering me over the head with that one. I’m far more interested in whether it’s actually true that Biden committed assault than the furious meta-arguments people are having
@mtracey So those are two reasons why I’m still skeptical. There are others, but I don’t want to spend all day on this. I’m not smearing Reade; I’m not saying she’s consciously lying now; I’m not defending hypocritical “Believe Women” Dems. I’m trying to rationally evaluate the situation
@mtracey However, the friend had vivid memories of Reade telling her about various workplace problems and struggles in Biden’s office, which caused Reade upset and eventually led to her leaving the office. But she doesn’t have any direct memories of being told about the alleged assault.
@mtracey In a podcast interview, one of Reade’s unnamed friends who’s been widely cited as a corroborating source stated that she “repressed on purpose” the memory of Reade telling her about the alleged assault. “I haven’t made a point to try to remember it,” the friend said.
@mtracey So presumably Tara Reade would have greater familiarity with the nuances of sexual assault reporting than the average victim. Which raises additional questions about why she would overtly lie about her assault in public venues.
@mtracey Can details of a sexual assault be revealed gradually over time? Sure. That’s common. But Tara Reade is a law school graduate who worked as a victims’ advocate for the Kings County, WA prosecutor’s office. She wrote publicly about her experiences with an allegedly abusive husband
@mtracey Reade repeatedly denied that Biden had done anything of a sexual nature toward her. This idea that her story was being ignored by the media is demonstrably untrue, because she spoke to multiple major media outlets, including the Washington Post, AP, and her local newspaper
@mtracey If it’s true that Tara Reade was sexually assaulted, then she must have lied to the media on multiple occasions last year, when she explicitly denied that Biden had committed any misconduct.
@mtracey Notice, none of these reasons for skepticism will have anything to do with her weird blog posts about Putin or Russia. Dem partisans who bring that stuff up are morons [emphasis added].
@mtracey OK, I’m going to give some reasons why I’m still skeptical of the Tara Reade allegations. If you want to accuse me of being a Biden shill: fine. I confronted Biden last year on his Iraq War lies, but if you want to believe that I’m suddenly shilling for him… knock yourself out
@mtracey The politicization and weaponization of sexual assault/sexual harassment is such a horrendous cultural shit-show — it’s almost impossible to deal with any aspect of it rationally, and it makes everyone involved look like hypocritical, vindictive, mud-slinging partisans
@mtracey Raise your hand if you, like me, didn’t automatically “believe” any of the Kavanaugh accusers — and are applying the same standard to the Biden accuser [crickets]
Along with Philip Giraldi’s piece on the bipartisan Cold War Twice vilification of all things “Russian,” another insightful article, this one by Patrick Lawrence, deconstructs the resuscitated (and historic) “Yellow Peril” vilification and scapegoating of China which President Trump has apparently seized upon as his all-purpose excuse for bungling the Corona-virus pandemic as well as his general failure to manage the federal bureaucracy with anything resembling competence. See: Our Latest Sinophobia Fest, Special to Consortium News (April 29, 2020). Some selected excerpts:
. . .
“. . . damn those Chinese, they are still forcing us to buy products we want at prices that allow American corporations to stiff American workers and keep their quarterly results rising [emphasis added].
. . .
“. . . it is well to recognize what is proceeding under the cover of our collective folie as to China’s alleged responsibility after the fact [emphasis added] . We watch, read, and listen as Washington and its media clerks manufacture our consent for a full-dress Cold War with China, the Russian attempt having failed to deliver the goods. However long it takes to overcome the Covid–19 virus, the new Cold War with the mainland will plague us longer.”
“The Pentagon, eager to quash any suggestion that its preposterous budget be reconsidered [emphasis added], is full-tilt in consolidating its forward position at the western end of the Pacific. A month ago the Defense Department sent Congress a request for $20 billion in additional funds to reinforce what we’re now calling the “Indo–Pacific Command.”
“This seems to be part of a National Defense Strategy called “Regain the Advantage.” As Defense News explained when it reported this, ‘The wish list was specifically requested by members of Congress who are eyeing it as the basis for a new Pacific-focused pot of money to deter Chinese military action in the region’ [emphasis added].”
“Is this a joke? What Chinese military action? There is nothing to deter, and zero prospect of a war with China [emphasis added] — given it is the last thing Beijing wants. Where would it be fought? How would it start?”
“The Pentagon has been getting away with this kind of blurry language so long nobody any longer questions it. It is time to understand very clearly that the Pentagon’s techno-rubbish about “flexible deterrent options to include full OPLAN [operation plan] execution,” as Defense News attractively puts it, is all and only about the self-perpetuation of an immense and unproductive bureaucracy and the immense profits it secures for defense contractors [emphasis added].
. . .
So the United States has nothing better to offer the world than the bogus scapegoating of China and Russia (the “Yellow Reds”) for better managing their domestic and foreign policies while US “leadership” hollows out the guts of America, squandering what few remaining resources the country still has?
And an “invisible” aircraft — ostentatiously flying overhead, pointlessly burning tons of fuel and polluting the atmosphere — somehow should make unemployed Americans feel “strong”?
What a piss poor joke of a country.
More on America’s absurd embrace of military flyovers as a way of showing strength during a pandemic:
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