New Civilization News: Support Our Troops    
 Support Our Troops4 comments
picture1 Mar 2005 @ 17:20, by Richard Carlson

Old River Mountain a slab of rock
that blue heaven's swept to paint on
and written there an ancient poem
green letters worked in moss.


And 'tis my faith that
every flower
Enjoys the air it breathes.

---William Wordsworth

It is good to know the truth, but it is better to speak of palm trees.

---Arabic Proverb

The photo shows Glenn Miller setting up the Army Air Force Band at the Yale Bowl in July 1943.

This really is an open letter to an old friend of mine. If he replies and permits me, I'll post it...and perhaps we may have a little forum. My friend is about my age, went to college with me, and even shared a dorm room for a time. We also shared an abiding love of jazz music---a devotion that has carried our friendship through thick and thin for 45 years. Over the past decade we have parted company politically, a much more extreme move on his part than mine. He has voted for Bush and supports the war effort, I guess, wherever it takes us. He has kept me abreast of conservative thought---and I am not going to make a wisecrack there, because he and I both know how daunting profound conservative philosophy can be. He suggested that if I would agree not to send him anything by Arianna Huffington, he would respond by not bothering me with Ann Coulter. He thought it might be better for the serenity of both of us if we stayed away from those women. We've kept that bargain...although since California deemed the brilliant Arnold Schwarzenegger what they needed for that state's salvation, Arianna has fallen rather more silent than she used to be---whereas Coulter is calling Helen Thomas an "old Arab." I'm not sure the deal is even anymore.

Anyway, on to the matter at hand: this is Glenn Miller's birthday (1901-1944) and I'm listening to old records. Miller's band was not a jazz band, and he emphasized that himself. He did not mean to belittle jazz by saying that. He just felt that what he needed to do was somewhat different...and he succeeded as did no one else, before or since. He fashioned a band, full of the very best musicians of the day, that could and did play extremely hot and swinging jazz arrangements, but mostly it was a music dancing in romantic moonlight. My friend and I know we don't keep Glenn Miller in the jazz section of our diverse collections, and we don't look to that band for brilliant soloists or breathtaking arranging breakthroughs. Tex Beneke won some jazz polls for his tenor sax, but his jaunty style really never got adventurous. Bobby Hackett, of course, was a jazz player, but his gentle health never allowed him to keep the kind of hours, company, and environment the music's shamans seem to require...and so necessarily his most popular work was playing his lush trumpet for Miller and Jackie Gleason. In fact, he played rhythm guitar for Miller, only switching to trumpet for solos on pieces like Serenade In Blue.

Glenn Miller had wonderful sidemen, who also turned up in bands after the war that played jazz. Zeke Zarchy, Johnny Best, Billy May, Al Klink, and Ernie Caceres were all capable of careers in jazz, but mostly accepted the security of recording studios to the grueling life on the road. Of Miller's arrangers, both Eddie Durham and Benny Carter were jazzmen but wrote very little for Glenn. Most of the work of cranking out the unbelievable volume of arrangements for this band was divided among Jerry Gray, Bill Finegan, and Billy May. All 3 had bands after the war, but only Finegan ventured occasionally into real jazz work. But all this was the civilian band...and as some of you know, Miller chose another path.

At the very height of his popularity in 1942, Glenn Miller enlisted in the United States Air Force, disbanded, and reported for duty. Maybe we should stop right here and consider what that meant. If you lived through that time, the very feel of what it was like is engrained in your soul. I'm sure that is true for you wherever you were, but Stateside it meant ongoing and constant sacrifice. Gasoline, food, rubber, everything was rationed. If you ran out, you had to wait...and that might mean standing in line all day for whatever commodity it was you needed. For Miller, giving up a wildly lucrative and necessary career to join the Service was not such a reach as it might seem today. The band was "necessary" because it sang songs of romance and hope that represented our optimism and morale. Many of us got our first glimpse of love to a Glenn Miller song. That even reached all the way down to 1951, when I first heard his 10-year-old record of Moonlight Becomes You. Miller was assigned the Army Air Force Band in October 1942, and that meant Uncle Sam was serenading us and the guys in uniform too.

The Air Force Band had a full string section and rather more jazz artists as well. All the recordings that exist of it are from air checks as the band toured bases here at home. A couple of guys from the civilian band went with him, chiefly Jerry Gray to arrange, but mostly it was a new crew. Most significant were Mel Powell, arranging and playing piano, and Ray McKinley on drums. Chuck Gentry and Peanuts Hucko were in the reed section. Bernie Privin and Bobby Nichols played trumpets. It was a huge orchestra to carry around, but Miller wanted to do more---and kept petitioning his command to take it to the Front, in Europe. He kept up that pressure for a year, and finally in June 1944 the whole band shipped out to England. There are recordings of Miller broadcasting from Britain in German, relentlessly encouraging folks who could hear to have courage and listen to the sounds of freedom. As many of you know, in the fall of 1944 the plan was to move the band onto a tour of the continent...and Glenn was flying across the Channel to finalize plans when his plane apparently was shot down. He was lost.

Listening to this music today, and immersing myself in memories of my wartime childhood, I am realizing what supporting the troops meant to us in those days. We had paper drives. We worked on scrap drives. Everything that could be reused was. Bottles were returned to the milkman or the store, washed and filled up again. You even got a few pennies back for a deposit you had left. To a kid my age it was unthinkable to walk past a discarded bottle along the road. You hopped on down to the corner store and got yourself a Hershey bar for it. Scrap drives involved everything---newspapers, tin cans, old clothes..anything that could be fashioned into something to help out the war effort. It was recycling with a vengeance.

These days I can't drive anywhere without seeing the Support Our Troops magnets all over the SUVs in front of me. What are these people really doing to support the troops I wonder? I mean, besides the magnets. What are we being asked to do? I remember before the Gulf War, when Bush's father was president, the Saudis cut off our oil for a while and there was a big energy crunch. The President was up in Maine, tooling around the harbor in his cabin cruiser. A reporter asked him if he wanted to encourage the people to conserve oil. He laughed. He laughed! Today, to support the troops we're supposed to go shopping. We're supposed to buy more stuff. We're supposed to invest our savings in globalized corporations. Since everyone can watch us on TV all over the world now, everyone can see what terrible sacrifice we're going through over here. They see the full parking lots at Walmart and they feel our pain. Times have changed, eh buddy? And maybe the idea of Freedom has too. No more Glenn Millers. I wonder how much body armor could be made out of the metal in those Support Our Troops magnets.

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1 Mar 2005 @ 20:35 by Quinty @ : Glen Miller
There some major differences between the two wars.

One, the US had to fight fascism in Europe. Iraq was an imperial war of choice.

Backing the troops in WWII meant supporting the war effort to defeat fascism. In Iraq it means bringing the troops home as soon as possible in order not to waste more lives.

While FDR may not have been completely honest with the American people, fascism was indeed evil and a threat to the world. Germany and Japan were major imperial powers. Whereas GWB lied the American people into a needless war with a broken county which was a threat to nobody. Only the most self deluded still accept the administration's lies which is why there is only shallow popular support today.

The great songs which came out of the Vietnam war were all anti war songs. As far as I know there are no songs, so far, which have come out of our escapade in Iraq. Glen Miller somehow caught the spirit of the times with his marvelous music. Who can ever forget hearing "In the Mood" or "Tuxedo Junction" for the first time? We were a better, more generous, and more courageous country then. Today we have an administration which has manipulated fear, ignorance, bigotry, and the basest forms of religious dogma to advance its agenda. One which seems to best benefit Halliburton and not the American people.  

2 Mar 2005 @ 08:23 by jazzolog : My Friend Replies
This response came almost at once yesterday afternoon, and I regret not getting it posted earlier. He has given permission to share his thoughts however I see fit, which is a very cool way friends often feel about each other. By the way, this roommate is not Quinty, who kindly contributes just above and who was another roommate of mine. I had 3---none of whom graduated under my auspices, a curious fact I prefer not to look into too hard.



In response to your last post:

We are not asked to sacrifice as much, because this war does not cost as much. More servicemen died in the first 10 minutes of the Normandy invasion than have died in Afghanistan and Iraq. It has not required as much material and personnel.

I certainly don't sense any pressure to go to the mall or buy stock in a global corporation to support the war. Are you getting pop-up ads or mass-mailings that have eluded me?

I sense that the many people who put metallic ribbons on their vehicles do so because of the relentless negativity of the dominant culture in the media and academia toward the war on terror, and because the movies, radio, tv do not represent their views, they think they must speak out on their own. This is quite different than World War II. (And a mirror of the Vietnam War coverage--the filter through which every subsequent military action is viewed). Then we made movies in support of our troops. Today, every version of Law and Order, for instance, has a show in which Muslims are unfairly treated, the Patriot Act is being used for terrible things, etc.--not supported by any evidence, but only by the fever swamp nightmares of Hollywood liberals. That this same media has been relentless wrong does not matter, the talking heads and Times op-ed thumb suckers just move on to the next "quagmire." The Taliban was defeated, the Al Queda training camps destroyed, free elections were held in Afghanistan, Iraq was defeated, Hussein captured, his sociopathic sons killed, free elections were held despite a wave of terror bombings, Arafat died leading to the first progress in Israeli-Palestinian conflict in 30 years, and the possiblility of building the platform for a lasting peace, Libya suddenly plays good doggie and rolls over to have it's belly scratched and says it will stop supporting terrorism, the Lebanese people--Muslim and Christian--force out of office the proto-Fascist Syrian pupppet government, there is movement in Egypt to have free elections and remove the Murbarak dynasty, Saudi Arabian Wahabbist charities that spread the jihad hatred are being shut down all over the world, Syria gives up Hussein's half-brother to Iraqi officials, the Ukraine has it's "orange revolution."

And the Western press and academia squirm because it is all a direct consequence of Chimpy Bushhitler the Moron.

If you wish to make a sacrifice for the war effort may I suggest a donation to the Fallen Heroes Fund which distributes money to the families in need of servicemen and women who have died in Iraq and Afghanistran. Here is the website:  

20 Apr 2005 @ 07:19 by jazzolog : Ann Coulter On The Cover Of TIME
TIME Shampoos Attack Poodle
Posted by James Wolcott

It's not worth wasting any more outrage on the subject of Ann Coulter. We all know what she is, and can hear in the brief quiets between her brash pronouncements the squeal and squeak of mice running wild in the messy hayloft of her mind. She's an empty uproar with long legs and long shiny hair and a reputation for extending the cocktail hour indefinitely that casts her with what Paddy Chayevsky emphemistically "an aura of availability." Middle-aged men and younger can daydream that if they met her under under auspicious circs, as they say in Bertie Wooster novels, they might have a shot, a reverie harder to entertain about Wonkette, whose wedding ring is powered with a special wolf-repellent ray. Coulter may have female fans, I wouldn't know, but her media stardom is primarily a male fantasy that is both sexist and racist. She is the pinup pundit of White Prerogative, her arrogant vanity perfect for a country and a media-political culture that refuse to recognize its postindustrial decline and decay. A country that still thinks it can whip the world into obeying its will.

But as I say, she is what is synthetically is, and is unlikely to change or deepen. Why should she, when mocking a Max Cleland or spouting anti-Muslim hate brings her such reward?

No, it's the editors of Time who should hide and hang their heads as they perp-walk from corporate HQ to a rented bus. They should go off on a corporate retreat and stay there. Just not come back. Let the junior staffers and interns and messengers put out the magazine--it would probably be an improvement, and even if it weren't, the end-result probably wouldn't gleam with jaded calculation. It might have a smidgen of honest conviction.

A few weeks ago, the legendary stock-market observer and commentator Richard Russell, a bombardier during WWII and hardly a dreamy liberal, said he picked up an issue of Time after not having read it for awhile and wondered what in the hell had happened to the magazine. It was all 'God, let's clean up the airwaves, and Bush-was-right.' (Presumably, Russell was referring to this {link:,9565,1035052,00.html} from--who else?--Charles Krauthammer, who, between his syndicated column and frequent appearances on Fox News, doesn't get near enough exposure for his views.)

And now, a week after including her among the "100 Influentials," Time puts Ann Coulter on the cover, runs a photo from a bogus rally inside to supplement a text better suited to a lad's mag for lads who wear penny loafers.

Bush reelection must have freaked the newsweeklies because ever since these high-floor Manhattan editors have been falling all over themselves to cater to Red State tastes in religion, pop culture, and politics. Before long editors and columnists will be sporting Nascar jackets in the cafeterias and refinancing their coops through Ditech and finding an exurbia megachurch they can commute to to share a slip-covered pew with David Brooks.

The slumming populism of the press under Bush could gag a horse. Given Bush's unpopularity , you'd think a clue or two might have wafted by now into the studios and newsrooms. On his Sunday show, Chris Matthews tried to frame the hostility toward Tom DeLay as the product of a stuckup Eastern elite towards a real Texas barbecue kinda guy. Since Matthews and his wife have a $4-million dollar house on Nantucket, it's a bit rich for him to act as he isn't a member of the very elite he is portraying as snobbish, etiolated, and out of touch; you don't jaunt to Nantucket to get closer to the proles and their barstool wisdom (which has furnished Mike Barnicle with so many pithy anecdotes over the years). Moreover, DeLay's luxury junkets to Scottish golf courses and London four-star hotels hardly suggest a Merle Haggard figure riding the bus through the American night as a diner beckons in the distance. On Matthews' panel was a smiling Elisabeth Bumiller of The New York Times, who has become the press's premiere giftwrapper of populist bullshit, as the Daily Howler documents--well, start here .

04.18.05 5:47PM
James Wolcott is a VANITY FAIR contributing editor  

23 Apr 2005 @ 16:43 by Quinty @ : Over the top
I have to admit that I'm fascinated by Ann Coulter. And by O'Reilly. They are so outrageous, over the top in a ferocious, ambitious, and ruthless way that I sometimes watch them, in awe, utterly amazed, without, if I may say so myself, a bit of snobbery, at their enormous popularity. Their draw. And tomorrow we will have something called "Justice Sunday," when all the sub-plotters from Elmer Gantry will come out en mass. It's not so much that they will actually have a huge nationally televised evangelical revival but that many of the top men in our government will be there. What can one say when things have become, well, so completely crazy? It's as if all these people were exerting themselves to be even more crazy, for crazy is not enough. And one can always leap a little higher toward the moon. And perhaps get there. With faith and conviction and a ferocious bullying manner.

Well, I'll stop exploring for words to describe this bizarre phenomenon. But you know what I mean. I, frankly, can not wait to see this giant televangelical event. I'm fascinated by it. (But not, I hope, in a snobbish way.)


The event to which Paul refers is described in this brief Newsday article~~~

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