Political Animal


May 27, 2012 3:16 PM Memorial Day Eve Wrap-Up

By Adele Stan

Thank you all for reading and engaging in the conversation, or for simply stopping by, even if you were on a Harley.

Tomorrow being the official observation of Memorial Day, I leave you with a couple of items dedicated to that theme, as well as a few other links.

As you have your fun, please don’t forget to think of the meaning of the day. The U.S. has been in a state of near-continuous war ever since its founding, so we have many war dead to remember. As for me, I’ll also be thinking of the people of Afghanistan. Though the goal of the U.S. and NATO was never to wreak death and destruction upon non-combatants, women and children, it’s something that just keeps happening. Why?

* The New York Times serves up a truly interesting history of Memorial Day’s origins in a story that leaves one with the impression that, even if all war ended tomorrow, some two dozen towns will be arguing in perpetuity over the claim to being Memorial Day’s birthplace.

* At Mother Jones, you can find a list of progressive military veterans who are running for Congress

A couple of other things:

* Paleoanthropologist Richard Leakey predicts that the debate over evolution will end soon, in the imminent moment when scientists have the proof that seals the deal. Apparently, he’s yet to learn that here in America, we live in a fact-free universe. AP has the story.

* My AlterNet colleague, Sarah Jaffe, looks at how the big banks are using tactics that stoke up legal fees in order to force homeowners who sue them out of court.

Until next time… In the meantime, don’t forget to apply the sunscreen.

Follow us on Twitter @washmonthly, and Adele @addiestan.


  • Hannah on May 27, 2012 4:17 PM:

    Have been enjoying your posts, Adele. Just haven't said that to you, yet, so here it is.

    Re Richard Leaky: I LOL when I read the headline; this guy is out of touch, you are so right.

    But last week's eclipse got me to wondering about all these anti-science folks. What do they think is the reason that scientists (astronomers, mathematicians, physicists) are able to predict the exact path of the moon's shadow on earth, and the exact beginning and end times for the eclipse, not just of this particular eclipse, but of many to come in the future. Just a hunch? Or do they believe as ancient people did that a giant dragon ate the sun as punishment and it's just luck that every single eclipse has occurred as predicted? Or do they accept the science in this case, but then turn around and dismiss biological science? If they dismiss biological science, do they go to modern doctors for treatment? Now that's hypocrisy.

  • Hedda Peraz on May 27, 2012 5:19 PM:

    Adieu, Adele, until we meet again- sooner than later, as I recently bookmarked Alternet as a top three stop on my internet journey each morning. More good stuff there than elsewhere.

  • liam foote on May 27, 2012 5:21 PM:


    In response to your question about why there continue to be civilian deaths in war, the answer is that what we euphemistically refer to as "collateral damage" has and always will occur as long as wars exist. The answer to your question is (a) human error or (b) equipment malfunction.

    While our military goes to great lengths to avoid civilian casualties, there will always be human error in the use of field weapons, artillery and air strikes. As the story notes, the US and NATO responsibility is for one of seven of Afghan civilian victims.

    "According to the United Nations, more than 3,000 civilians were killed in wartime violence last year, and three-fourths of those deaths were attributed to insurgent attacks. The actions of Western coalition and Afghan troops were responsible for 14% of civilian deaths last year."

    So, yes, we may try to "have our fun today" but the purpose of the day is to remember and honor our family and friends who have given their lives.

  • Adele Stan on May 27, 2012 6:17 PM:

    Thanks, everybody for your thoughtful comments. I'm humbled by the kind words from Hannah and Hedda, and I appreciate liam's explanation about so-called "collateral damage." On the latter point, I have no illusions about the Taliban or other insurgents in Afghanistan. But I don't think the answer lies simply in the percentages of who killed whom. While insurgents and native combatants may bear the bulk of responsibility for civilian deaths in Afghanistan, each wayward drone strike or air strike lends more fuel to those insurgencies. Civilian deaths that take place via NATO or U.S. troops get media attention, and they're caused by hi-tech war machines launched by invaders from places seemingly beyond the reach of the people who are struck, reinforcing the Taliban's or warlord's anti-Western narrative.

    In my post above, I acknowledge that the purpose of Memorial Day is to honor our war dead, of which we have too many, and urge people to bear that purpose in mind. But I think it also fitting to remember the people of Afghanistan, a nation whose 30-year state of war is partly the responsibility of the United States, who, after arming the warlords for our proxy war against the Soviet Union, abandoned the people to the mercy of the thugs we so armed.

  • j on May 27, 2012 6:23 PM:

    I would like to add my thanks to you Adele, will be reading you when I get the opportunity!

  • Kathryn on May 27, 2012 7:13 PM:

    Count me in too Adele, you're peppy and I like that you interact with us. Have a lovely Memprial Day, even as we remember the fallen. Sure hope some of the vets running for Congress get elected, especially the ones running against teatards.

  • Mudge on May 27, 2012 7:16 PM:

    I enjoy Adele immensely, she has insight, style and humor. But I also must compliment Ed Kilgore, or whoever decides such things if Ed doesn't, for spotlighting female writers here. This weekend feature has been a joy. Now if Steve Benin hadn't been such a workaholic...we'd have had this years ago.

  • liam foote (lcpl,, ret.) on May 27, 2012 11:02 PM:

    Id just like to say that I have followed WaMo for years and strongly support our Animals. I am a USMC combat vet of the Viet Nam era (III MAF, I Corps) but as a psychologist and professional musician could easily fit the mold of the kind of progressive vet noted in another article on this site today. Faculty and advisors at my university strongly urged me to enter into Congressional politics in the mid-70s as Saigon fell, rather than attend grad school. I chose to go to work for an NGO dealing with the resettlement of Lao hilltribe CIA mercenaries and Vietnamese boat people.

    Having lost close friends in Viet Nam and having spent many Memorial Day events and family anniversaries with their loved one, I have to admit that I today found suggestions by a WaMo writer mildly distasteful. Memorial Day is a time to remember our fallen, their families and friends. Please allow me to suggest that it is not a time to address, even incidentally, problems related to civilian casualties in Afghanistan, Pakistan, Yemen, Sudan and other areas of conflict. While these matters may be attended to during the other 364 days of the year, and should certainly be in our thoughts today, let us dedicate at least Memorial Day, to our own fallen soldiers. Thank you. Semper Fi.