"Where are the French?" Uncle Chet asked from across the table where we were having coffee.
"Weren't they supposed to run this new war, Sarkozy in the lead plane? We were going to hand this off to our European allies, but now, it's American cruise missiles in the air, CIA advisers on the ground, almost $700 million pumped out of the Treasury so far."
"So far as we know," I said.
"And I'd like to know where that money's going," he said. "When we spend $700 million, it doesn't disappear; it just goes from public hands to private hands."
"To stockholders in the arms dealers," I said.
"And oil companies," he said. "War runs on oil, and oil runs on war; the two go hand-in-hand. Why else do we park our Navy in the Red Sea, if not to act as an escort service for Exxon and BP?"
"Got to have that gas, and not at $4 a gallon."
"So another war over oil," he said. "And I could almost go for this one, except for our miserable track record."
"I'm surprised to hear you say that," I said.
"Have you noticed that every war we get into lately seems to start the same way?" he said.
"How's that?" I glanced out the window at a pile of firewood that needed to be stacked and covered before it rained tomorrow.
"There's always a militant billionaire," he said. "A dirt bag, the focus of evil for the Western world, who's got a big cache of weapons and an army that terrorizes the locals."
"That sounds right."
"You can't have a war without a villain, so we always find one, one we can loath for all the murdering, raping, gassing, lying, cheating, torturing he's done over years when he was our ally."
"Sorry, Moammar, Osama, Noriega, those days are done," I said.
"And once we cross them off the list, they're dead meat, and any move to defend them or question the new war is akin to treason."
"You're either with us or against us," I said. "Isn't that the Bush Doctrine?"
"In the last 20 years, we've been at war with Saddam, Osama, Saddam again and now Moammar, while on the other side we've had our allies, the lovers of democracy, the freedom fighters, the young have-nots fighting desperately because they're fed up with the ruling class."
"But why is it exploding now?" I said.
"Rising food prices, expanding Internet," Uncle Chet said. "The key is the Internet, a way for people to share their misery and organize. We'd never have seen anything in Tunisia or Egypt, let alone Libya, if not for Facebook and Twitter."
"They're changing the map," I said.
"My question is how do we act as the world turns toward economic democracy? Do we keep coddling dictators as they're playing along, then turn on them as soon as there's a hint of rebellion? Or do we stand against the autocrats, sultans and corporate bosses, who've rigged the economic system, bled the middle class and filled the world's prisons?"
"Or we could just stack the wood," I pushed my chair back.
"Or we could tell the truth, act ethically," Uncle Chet said. "We could decline to dine with the Saudi king. We could refuse to back any regime that isn't popularly elected and where wealth is hoarded by the few. And we could refuse to attack, intervene, blow up anyone unless the United Nations agrees to act in concert to start and finish wars, with everyone chipping in."
"We could, but I don't think we will."
"No, we'll just keep finding bogeymen and firing missiles, sending troops off until the rebellion reaches our own shores."
"That'll work as long as they can get volunteers to `be-all-you-can-be,"' I said.
"That's why they got rid of our manufacturing jobs," Uncle Chet said. "Now, for a lot of us, that is all you can be. Want a steady job, with benefits, in the USA? Just sign here, then slip into that uniform."
Cooperstown Bureau Reporter Tom Grace is traveling with his Uncle Chet, who he says is imaginary. Grace's column appears every other week. For more of his columns, visit www.thedailystar.com/tomgrace.
"Where are the French?" Uncle Chet asked from across the table where we were having coffee.
- Big Chuck D'Imperio
There was just no telling about snow days
Winters get harder as we get older. Things change. It snows more. It snows less. It gets colder. It's a lot milder. It all changes as our knees start to creak and the thought of shoveling a foot of snow seems positively daunting.Continued ...
- And the music goes round and round
- When did pranks turn into vandalism?
- Happy and sad memories of Jan. 7, 1966
- Lesser known greats that passed away in 2013
- There was just no telling about snow days
- Cary Brunswick
It's time for warmer relations with Cuba
It has been 55 years since Fidel Castro and his bands of nationalist fighters and supporters took over the government of Cuba. The United States immediately took issue with that regime change, and ever since has had serious problems with the tiny nation just south of the Florida Keys.Continued ...
- Unconventional events changed my outlook
- Keystone XL pipeline is still a terrible idea
- We shouldn't trade privacy for security
- I'm pleasantly surprised by Pope Francis
- It's time for warmer relations with Cuba
- Chuck Pinkey
- Guest Column
State's budget gimmick is hindering schools
Recently, the Margaretville and Roxbury boards of education joined their colleagues across the region and throughout the state in adopting a resolution calling on the state legislature to end the so-called "gap elimination adjustment."Continued ...
- The state Board of Regents deserves a shakeup
- It's no wonder businesses avoid us
- How to bridge a widening wealth gap
- Nimbys, shills and celebs: A morality play for our times
- State's budget gimmick is hindering schools
- Lisa Miller
A view from above
Fire towers in the Catskill Mountains have always been destination points, built to capture some of the region’s best views. These sentinel stations served an important role for the earliest possible sightings of forest fires in the remote mountain ranges. But the fire towers and those who manned them fulfilled a multitude of other roles as well.Continued ...
- Being a parent is a constant learning process
- Healthy doesn't have to mean expensive
- A family era ends with close of Potter series
- Independent stores make up for loss of Borders
- A view from above
- Mark Simonson
Natural gas drilling efforts of the 1880s found little locally
There was no such process as hydraulic fracturing. New York didn't have a Department of Environmental Conservation. Lawn signs for or against it weren't seen anywhere. Yet natural gas drilling efforts were going on in our region more 125 years ago. It was an industry still in its infancy. Numerous reports were published in local newspapers during the late 1880s and beyond.Continued ...
- Beauty, grooming took center stage in Oneonta in March 1964
- Local news, opinion often mixed in 1889 newspapers
- Gasoline, demons and baseball were 'trending' locally in 1974
- Early efforts to halt Silver Creek were slow going
- Natural gas drilling efforts of the 1880s found little locally
- Rick Brockway
It's cold, but there's still plenty to do
This has been a tough winter. In fact, it has been one of the coldest winters on record. Now don't get me wrong, I love winter and I always have. I've always believed that people who don't like winter don't have anything to do when the snow flies and temperatures drop below freezing. But I've never had that problem.
- Animals' behavior a sign of wild winter
- Opossum is unique in many ways
- It can be too cold sometimes
- It's tough to say what you really did see
- It's cold, but there's still plenty to do
- Sam Pollak
Religion should be a comfort, not a weapon
Discuss politics or religion in any establishment that specializes in dispensing alcohol, and -- proprietors warn -- the discussion is highly likely to result in you waking up on the tavern floor and spitting out teeth, probably your own.Continued ...
- The world must think we're nuts
- Mistakes easy to take ... if they're not yours
- Celebrate 2013 with the annual 'Sammy Awards'
- The feds still aren't coming for your guns
- Religion should be a comfort, not a weapon
- William Masters
Schreibman tops Chris Gibson on women's issues
As the time to vote draws near, we need to remember how money can run politics more than we can. Raising funds is a prominent (if not the dominant) task of getting elected. Raising issues is also crucial, but those efforts are subject to distortion and fear-mongering.
Republicans feelentitled to allthey can garner
An entitlement is a legal benefit available from the government to individuals who are within a defined category of recipients, such as needing insurance for unemployment or health services.
Romney focuses on self; Obama emphasizes unity
Mitt Romney criticizes President Obama for saying a person's success is rooted in his community, and is not all his alone. Romney belittles this with his belief in individual initiative. He is better at the put-down than the push-up.
Romney shows little regard for common man
The Republicans in Congress have voted over and over, 33 times, redundantly and uselessly, to rescind what they call Obamacare.
Scouts' gay ban creates problem where none exists
The Boy Scouts of America's "emphatic reaffirmation" of its vow to exclude any and all homosexuals from its hallowed ranks is ill-considered and pathetic, especially in view of its having reviewed the matter for two years.
- Schreibman tops Chris Gibson on women's issues