Archive for Afghanistan

USA! USA! USA!

Posted in history with tags , , , , , , on February 26, 2012 by cliffmichaels

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I’m a diehard Big Orange fan. I watch every Tennessee football, basketball, and women’s basketball game I can. When my teams win I feel great; when they lose I feel sad…

Now, I know big time college athletics is corrupt, a sacred cash cow with a thousand teats spewing money.  I know most of Tennessee’s football players hale from out of state, just mercenaries here only for the chance to get the big bucks in the NFL. I know its the same with basketball. “Show me the money!” My late (first) father-in-law put it best – he was a huge North Carolina fan – “they may be sons of bitches, but they’re our sons of bitches…”

Somehow, however, once the kickoff happens, or the opening tip, I willfully  forget what I know and avidly root for our brave boys in orange as they struggle against those villains in red, or blue, or gold. Go Big Orange! Go Big Orange!!

I have the same schizophrenic attitude about America. I was born and raised in the good old USA. I love our flag and our other national icons. I grew up cheering John Wayne in countless war and western flicks and reading sanitized history textbooks glorifying  our very checkered past (how amazing it now seems that native Americans were portrayed in popular culture as savages who attacked us without provacation). My country right or wrong! I was your typical flag waving, toy gun toting, jingoistic America kid…

Then I went up north to college and began to learn about a different America. The catalyst was the war – the Vietnam War. I learned our troops weren’t the wholesome samaritans sacrificing to save our brave Vietnamese allies as I had been led to believe…  I learned the Gulf of Tonkin incident – the justification for the massive escalation of the war – was a government lie. Later I learned about My Lai.

Then came Nixon and Watergate; we all learned our government was venal at the very highest levels. Now we know our national legislature is awash in corporate and insider cash that buys influence and more. Now we know our government still lies about the need to go to war. Now we know our nation has caused the death of tens of thousands of civilians in Iraq, Afghanistan and Pakistan. Now we know our national leaders have condoned and forgiven torture, sanctioned due process free detention and execution of American citizens.

A near majority of my fellow citizens applaud torture (when we are the torturers). Despite the lessons of Iraq, my fellow Americans want war with Iran and care next to nothing for the Palestinians. Our police beat protesters and spy on Muslims. An alarmingly large slice of America believes our President is an alien (in both senses of the word).

Around the world people are repulsed by our policies: the uncritical support for Israel, our bellicose support of tyrannical regimes, and our smug sense of entitlement on the world stage. But I still love America, its red, white and blue flag, the White House, the Washington Monument, the Star Spangled Banner, apple pie,  spacious skies, and amber waves of grain.

When we invaded Iraq I was aghast. I believed the war to be immoral and stupid – but when the war kicked off I started rooting for the troops all the same. How like a game it was! And our team was winning, really running up the score!

I rooted for our brave boys the same way I root for the Big Orange.

Mindlessly. 

Photo by fusky, remixed by me, both images subject to this creative commons license 

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Home Alone

Posted in erotic, FLICKR, pinup, Sexy with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , on July 31, 2011 by cliffmichaels

Ordinarily grand political debates don’t have much immediate  impact on us regular folks. I was happy DADT was repealed, but it didn’t change my life. Health care reform hasn’t altered how I live my life. Even the black holes of Iraq and Afghanistan haven’t forced me to do anything differently.

But now…

Will our Social Security checks come?? If the debt ceiling isn’t raised they just might not. Where did we put the dog food…?

My wife is in Chicago this weekend. If she didn’t read this blog from time to time, I’d tell you how I’ve used my free time. Actually, I probably wouldn’t; it’s been that dull.

I’d bet big bucks this girl’s life is a lot more exciting than mine 

Photo by SuicideGirls, altered by me, subject to a creative commons license

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Long &Tiresome Liberal Rant of the Month

Posted in erotic, FLICKR, history, photographers, PHOTOGRAPHY, pinup, Sexy, women with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on July 16, 2011 by cliffmichaels

Image by Eric Fischer, subject to a creative commons license.

If  you’re just looking for a racy photo, scroll to the end of the post…  

It hurts to face the truth that VISIONS is just a third or fourth rate sex blog surviving by ripping off other people’s erotic  photos on Flickr. We’re so desperate here at VISIONS we might even resort to that utterly bankrupt Internet posting ploy, a slideshow (ten weirdist tits!).

But today we aspire to raise our tone. Today we wish to polish our prose. Today we shall pontificate, bloviate, hector, decry, condemn, and point with alarm and dismay.

 Warning: if you don’t share my rather mindless, lefty leaning, bleeding heart, fabianist, pacifist, suspiciously un-American views (I even believe Barack Hussein Obama was born in America) you might want to skip to the nude at thebottom of the page.

We all applauded the demise of the Soviet Union. For those of us who were children during the duck and cover days, the disappearance of the threat of near instant nuclear apocalypse was exhilarating. The stunning collapse of the iron curtain and the subsequent spread of freedom across eastern Europe seemed a near miracle. Its now difficult to believe that for anyone under the age of thirty or so the cold war and the Soviet menace is just another boring section in   history books, no different than the rise of the Roman Empire or the fall of the Third Republic.

Now, twenty-five years late the other cold war superpower, America, teeters on the precipice of economic and political catastrophe. Our political system has become sclerotic and been thoroughly captured by the corporate elite’s unending cascade of campaign cash; what’s good for General Motors, Google, is no longer what’s good for the country. Corporations are no longer national but global. The Republican party, always a cozy partner with business, has grown schizophrenic in its embrace of both the Tea Party and big business;  and the Democratic party has become equally complicit in corporate governance and has forgotten its prior proud championing of the working class and poor.

For quite awhile it puzzled me that no actor on the American political stage seemed genuinely concerned that the engine of America’s economy, the middle class, was declining in both wealth and numbers.  Both parties accept the high rate of unemployment and offer little or nothing to alleviate the accompanying human misery. There has been scant effort to stop or reverse the hollowing out of domestic manufacturing, and the resultant stagnation in wages and the decline in the blue collar middle class.  Now I have realized the dramatic rise of emerging markets in Asia and elsewhere  (think China and India) is quickly rendering domestic consumption less and less important.  With booming markets overseas, corporations save more by moving production offshore than they lose in domestic sales. They have also mastered the move of their profits out of the reach of the IRS, significantly reducing federal revenues.

And of course there are the endless wars. Iraq. Afghanistan. Libya. Maybe Iran. Maybe Somalia. Al-Qaeda & Global Terrorism. It is astonishing that in their insane rush to decimate federal spending neither party proposes any meaningful cuts in defense spending. We are willing to weaken medicare and social security, decimate spending on infrastructure, slash funds for the poor and children, but insist on holding the line on what we spend on fighter jets, aircraft carriers and tanks (all so useful in the War on Terror).  We sharpen the point of the spear and allow the staff to whither away. Despite its vast military might the Soviet Union rotted away from within. We are flirting with the same fate.

I met a traveller from an antique land
Who said: “Two vast and trunkless legs of stone
Stand in the desert. Near them on the sand,
Half sunk, a shattered visage lies, whose frown
And wrinkled lip and sneer of cold command
Tell that its sculptor well those passions read
Which yet survive, stamped on these lifeless things,
The hand that mocked them and the heart that fed.
And on the pedestal these words appear:
`My name is Ozymandias, King of Kings:
Look on my works, ye mighty, and despair!’
Nothing beside remains. Round the decay
Of that colossal wreck, boundless and bare,
The lone and level sands stretch far away”.

………………………………..  Percy Bysshe Shelley 

Photo by Nick Sushkevich, subject to a creative commons license.

Flickr Group: Made in the Soviet Union

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War and Rumors of War

Posted in FLICKR, photographers, PHOTOGRAPHY with tags , , , , , on December 11, 2009 by cliffmichaels

Flickr isn’t just for pretty pictures. With the emotional wallop of  still photography, Flickr provides the world with a vivid photographic chronicle of conflicts around the world.

We have become accustomed to ignoring a three minute snippet of TV news about some far away chaos. Flickr shows us faces contorted in pain, police shooting down students in the streets, and the tens of thousands of young and not so young protesters massing in Tehran.

Here, in the form of a Flickr gallery, is a tribute to the brave revolutionaries in Iran and their supporters around the world:

IRAN IN GREEN

War has ripped apart Afghanistan for centuries. Its people are as hard and sharp as the high, cold mountains  surrounding them. America is but the latest power devastating the towns and country of Afghanistan. We claim good cause for our assault. Our “just cause” does little for the dead, the wounded, and the dispossessed of that ancient land. Another Flickr gallery:

AFGHANISTAN: Mountains of Sorrows