Hollywood and War: “American Sniper”…a Movie about a Killer Hero

American-Sniper-by-Chris-KyleBy Elaine Magliaro

I have neither read Chris Kyle’s memoir American Sniper nor seen the movie based on his book. Kyle was the decorated Navy SEAL who became “the deadliest sniper in the annals of American warfare.” Writing for The Intercept, Peter Maass said that just a few pages into the memoir, Kyle “used an epithet to describe the Arabs on the wrong side of his gun scope.”


“A lot of people, myself included, called the enemy ‘savages.’ I only wish I had killed more. Not for bragging rights, but because I believe the world is a better place without savages out there taking American lives.”

The film American Sniper—starring Bradley Cooper as Kyle—had a limited release in late December. Maass said that even before its national release on January 16th, the movie had become “an Oscar contender.” He said the Los Angeles Times hailed “its action scenes as ‘impeccably crafted,’”—while The New Yorker saluted “Clint Eastwood for making other directors ‘look like beginners.’”


Unfortunately, Hollywood’s producing class, taking a break from exchanging catty emails about A-list stars, has created another war film that ignores history, and reviewers who spend too much time in screening rooms are falling over themselves in praise of it.

Maass added that they “should know better.” He remembered that back in 2012 the movie Zero Dark Thirty “was lavishly praised by most reviewers…until criticism emerged from political reporters like Jane Mayer and others…that the tide turned against the pro-torture fantasy at its core.” He noted that there was a backlash “after the film made ‘best of the year’ lists…”—and that the backlash was probably responsible for the movie “being all but shut out of the Academy Awards.” Maass is hoping the same fate awaits American Sniper.

Maass’s main criticism of the film is that it “makes no attempt to tell us anything beyond Kyle’s limited comprehension of what was happening” He said that more than ten years “after America invaded and occupied Iraq, and long after we realized the war’s false pretense and its horrific toll, we deserve better.” Maass added, “There’s a dilemma at work: a war movie that is true of one American’s experience can be utterly false to the experience of millions of Iraqis and to the historical record. Further, it’s no act of patriotism to celebrate, without context or discussion, a grunt’s view that the people killed in Iraq were animals deserving their six-feet-under fate.”

Negin Farsad (Indiewire) wrote that Eastwood’s latest film “says a lot about America – there are hints of home-of-the-brave, sprinklings of let’s-show-‘em-how-its-done, and a generous helping of America-fuck-yeah! It is, after all a movie about a hero. Navy Seal Chris Kyle fought for his country in multiple tours in Iraq and was, by every measure, a great American patriot.”

Yet, she questioned what measures we use to determine patriotism.


…What metrics are we using for patriotism and what does it say about us? The film itself is expertly directed – as many legit critics will tell you – but it was the experience of watching the movie, in a packed theatre, with other red-blooded Americans like myself, where the fear crept in.

Farsad said that after the part in the movie when Kyle “managed to kill his last target, the audience erupted in cheers. Loud cheers.” That made her squirm. She said, “Cheering the death of another human being seemed…a little gross. Do I love my country less because I’m uncomfortable cheering the death of another man? I don’t, but as I write this, I worry that even questioning our construct of patriotism will get me on some kind of turncoat hit list.”

She noted that the film did an excellent job of giving moviegoers “a running tally of exactly how many people Kyle killed.” She said that his final count of confirmed kills—160—was “repeated and lauded throughout the film by colleagues, friends, and family.” She added that there was no “sugarcoating it either – no one said, ‘You’re a legend for how much you fight for democracy.’ No, the naked language of ‘confirmed kills’ is what produced the admiration.”


Maybe confirmed kills should not be the metric by which we define patriotism? Maybe because we celebrate these kinds of confirmed kills, we’re at a loss for how to handle the other kind of confirmed kills, the kind the police brought us in Ferguson or Staten Island?  The police, like the military, are heroes; they put themselves in danger for us. But killing people is the most grotesque part of their jobs. And sometimes, they get it wrong. We’re supposed to offer unqualified support for their valor, but now it seems that maybe that support should have some boundaries. Throughout the film, Kyle never appeared to question his kills, and in our relationship to war and criminal justice, neither do we.

In the final paragraph of her article about American Sniper, Farsad said that what was scary about the movie was the number of things that “it got right about America.”


I want to revere Kyle not because of his confirmed kills or because he wanted to get the savages, but because he believed in some kind of democratic ideal. I want to believe that our international strategic plan makes killing people the last option on the docket. “American Sniper” is a film that does ask us to consider the toll war takes on soldiers, but does not ask us to consider the fundamental destruction of unmitigated jingoism. It reflects an America whose patriotism verges on an irresponsibility that actually abuses the willingness and valor of its soldiers.

Maass reported that in addition to playing the starring role in American Sniper, Cooper was also one of the film’s producers. He said Cooper claimed the film wasn’t “a movie about the Iraq war.” Cooper said it was a film “about the horror of what a soldier like Chris has to go through”—and added that it was “not a political movie at all. It’s a movie about a man—a character study.”

Maass said that if Cooper “means what he said about its lack of politics, he fails to understand how war movies operate in popular culture.” Maass thinks that when a movie “venerates an American sniper but portrays as sub-human the Iraqis whose country we were occupying…it conveys a political message that is flat wrong. Among other things, it ignores and dishonors the scores of thousands of Iraqis who fought alongside American forces and the hundreds of thousands of innocent civilians who were killed or injured in the crossfire.”

Maass said that he wasn’t surprised by Hollywood. He noted that “the making of great and true movies is not a feature built into its strange operating system amid the palm trees…” He added, however, that he was “dismayed with the reviewers who should know better.”


As Alissa Quart wrote for Reuters during the backlash to ZDT (full disclosure: Quart is my wife), today’s critics tend to avoid cinematic politics, in contrast to their predecessors, like Mary McCarthy and Pauline Kael. If a movie is well acted and nicely shot and carries the viewer along, that is enough to earn five stars in their reviews, because history does not matter to them. They are ideology-agnostic formalists, and this hurts us.

We got Iraq wrong in the real world. It would be nice to get it right at the multiplex.



How Clint Eastwood Ignores History in ‘American Sniper’ (The Intercept)

Zero Conscience in “Zero Dark Thirty” (The New Yorker)

Here’s What ‘American Sniper’ Says About America (Indiewire)

‘American Sniper’ Portrays Remorseless Killer As A Hero? (Inquistr)

Real ‘American Sniper’ was a hate-filled killer — why are simplistic patriots treating him as a hero? (Raw Story)

Death of an American sniper (Salon)


‘Let ISIS rape you’: Conservatives deluge ‘American Sniper’ critics with harassment and threats (Raw Story)

‘Cut Her Head Off’: The Shocking Death Threats You Can Receive for Mocking Eastwood’s ‘American Sniper’ Movie (AlterNet)

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221 Responses to Hollywood and War: “American Sniper”…a Movie about a Killer Hero

  1. buckaroo says:

    Lady, we live in a world that has walls and these walls have to be guarded by men like Navy SEAL Chris Kyle with skills in the use of guns. Who is going to do it ? You, me – who ? Navy Seal Kyle had a greater responsibility than we could possibly fathom. Some weep for his targets & perhaps curse the Navy Seals. They have that luxury. They have the luxury of not knowing what Navy SEAL Chris Kyle knows. That his target’s deaths, while tragic, probably saved lives. And his existence, while grotesque and comprehensible to some, saves lives. Perhaps the truth isn’t important to some because deep down in places many of us don’t talk about at parties. Kyle is needed out there on that wall. We use words like honor, loyalty. We use these words as the backbone of a life spent defending something. Others use them as a punchline. We, who rise and sleep under the blanket of the freedom that such Navy Seals provide, and then questions the manner in which they provide it. I would suggest we just say thank you and go on our way. Otherwise I would suggest ……..

    — Jack Nicholson

  2. Elaine M. says:


    I included that article in my sources. I probably should have included more information about Kyle in my post–but I didn’t want it to get too long. In addition, I was attempting to put the focus on movies that are made in Hollywood…and how they depict factual events and the people we consider to be our enemies. Imagine if some country invaded us. I wonder if any of our countrymen would pick up arms against the invaders???

  3. Elaine M. says:


    I wasn’t aware that our country’s walls extended to Iraq–a country that we invaded even though it had nothing to do with 9/11. We shouldn’t have started that war. Many innocent Iraqis lost their lives in that war–as did many American soldiers. I’ll save my anger for those who were the perpetrators of 9/11 and the politicians who lied and got us into a war with Iraq.

  4. Mike Spindell says:


    That you would not see Nicholson’s speech in its movie context as the mutterings of an angry, macho egomaniac is surprising. The speech exposed his character for the over reaching jingoist he was.

  5. randyjet says:

    That character was spouting nonsense and in FACT spit on the honor and traditions of the Corps. He lied to his superiors, violated orders, spit on the orders of his officers, and was willing to sacrifice two of his men to preserve his own ass. Then he falsified documents, in addition to screwing over his men, and thought that his actions were in the service of the Corps, while in FACT they were in service to his own ass and glory. He also caused the death of a sick Marine and then caused the medical dept to compromise itself and also lie. All in all, that Col was a real disgrace to his uniform and those who think that what he said is right are also of the same stripe. Traitors to the Corps and the Constitution of the USA.

    I much prefer Orwell’s saying that while the rest of us sleep, it is only because rough men stand guard with their rifles. He was a real fighter and radical too. He was also badly wounded in the Spanish Civil War fighting against people like the Col.

  6. Bob Kauten says:

    I don’t need no stinkin’ snipers guarding my stinkin’ walls. Mainly because I don’t invade tiny, relatively defenseless countries for no particular reason, and create “insurgents.” No invasion, no insurgents. No need to shoot people who can’t even see you.
    No need to create monsters who delude themselves into thinking they’re doing it for me.

  7. eniobob says:


    After I posted that link I re read the article and saw you had posted that link,so my take away for the begininig of 2015 is to read before I post.

  8. gbk says:

    What movie are y’all referring to?

  9. Elaine M. says:


    I think some of the comments were about the movie “A Few Good Men.”

  10. One of the reasons I don’t watch movies any more, nor do I watch crime shows on TV. They bear little or no relationship to reality. The “CSI” series sets my teeth on edge.

    As for dehumanizing the enemy, it is a psychological defense mechanism. It has to be present if one is to follow orders. Even so, Chris Kyle and thousands of others like him still suffer(ed) from PTSD.

    The first true American military sniper was Sgt. Timothy Murphy. He shot General Simon Frasier at the Battle of Brandywine at a range of 400 yards. A few minutes later, he shot and killed Sir Francis Clerke. Sgt. Murphy’s commanding officer, General Daniel Morgan, understood the tactical need for a sniper as a force multiplier. A lone sharpshooter could paralyze and demoralize an entire regiment.

    I probably have had in-depth conversations with more snipers than anyone on this forum. As one former Marine put it, “Sir, the United States Marines spent over a million dollars training me. My commanders gave me orders and I followed them as best I could. Now I am home and want to go back to my old job.”

    These young men are not “monsters,” but are people who happen to have an unusual skill, and the military was able to use that skill. The much lauded Tennessee hero of WW1, Sgt. Alvin York, was a sniper. Despite having financial problems, he refused to capitalize on his Medal of Honor.

    In many respects, the sniper is not that much different than a fighter pilot or bomber crew. They are trained and given a job to do. They all have one hope: To see the conflict end as soon as possible so they can return home and resume their lives.

  11. Elaine M. says:


    I didn’t say that Kyle was a “monster.” The soldiers we send to war become victims too–victims of the war games that our leaders play. My father served in the army during WWII. He was a sharpshooter/expert marksman who was skillful with guns. He returned home from the army with badges and medals. He wasn’t a sniper, though.

  12. Elaine,
    At least one of your links used the word “monster,” and I have seen it elsewhere today as well.

    Just curious; how do you view your Dad’s service during WW2? Do you know what medals he was awarded? Most medals awarded for valor come with an official certificate describing the reasons for the medal. Did he ever talk about his time in service?

  13. gbk says:


    “I think some of the comments were about the movie ‘A Few Good Men.'”

    Thank you for the clarification.

    I suspected this was the reference, but became confused when buckaroo transposed Chris Kyle into the dialog of a movie that was released in 1992 while giving attribution to Jack — an actor.

    Scary stuff.

  14. gbk says:


    “As one former Marine put it, ‘Sir, the United States Marines spent over a million dollars training me. My commanders gave me orders and I followed them as best I could. Now I am home and want to go back to my old job.’”

    A million dollars spent on one Marine?

    Maybe this is possible with the cost of imperial protrusions while predicating the outcome of the world fettered by our very involvement — but I doubt it.

    Though the money is going somewhere.

    So, the question is: Is this a valid use of our money at the scale you claim given your example?

  15. eniobob says:


    After I posted that link I re read the article and saw you had posted that link,so my take away for the begininig of 2015 is to read before I post.”

    Should have said **re-read**before I post.

  16. Elaine M. says:


    My father got his awards/medals for marksmanship/sharpshooting. I believe he was a company clerk with the Army Corps of Engineers. He was a corporal. He didn’t talk a great deal about the war. He did fall in love with Chipping Norton, the town where he was stationed in England. My husband and I traveled there in 1972. It was a charming little town in the Coatswolds. We fell in love with the area too.

    We saw what happened at Abu Ghraib…Nisour Square… Americans were involved with the torture of human beings. Not all Americans who serve in wartime are heroes.

  17. gbk,
    You have to look at the estimated cost of training some of the most elite soldiers on the battlefield. The modern sniper is not only a sharpshooter, they become experts in gathering intelligence and long-range reconnaissance, how to survive in any hostile environment, micrometeorology, camouflage, ballistics, and on and on. The sniper/scout not only knows how to use all the weapons his side uses, but can use “found” equipment from opposing forces as well.

    We know the British spend about £2,000,000 ($3.75 million) to train a single SAS trooper. There is no reason to think it costs less to train a Navy Seal. There are fewer than 300 active duty snipers in the USMC.

  18. Elaine sez: “Not all Americans who serve in wartime are heroes.”
    Of course not. Anytime you gather a large number of people from all walks of life, you are bound to have the disgruntled, lazy, mentally disturbed, and personality disordered. Most would rather be anywhere than in a war zone. When we look carefully at the Stanford Experiment and the work of Stanley Milgram, we see how easy it is to get ordinary people to cross that line into becoming terrible people.

    By the same token, we see huge numbers of ordinary citizens rising above themselves. War brings out both the best and the worst in people.

    • randyjet says:

      I have just finished reading the book American Sniper, and while I disagree with his perspective on the war in Iraq, I will go to see the movie. In the book he makes it quite clear that he enjoyed war and loved his job, as do all the SEALs. That is quite typical of such elite units since they operate outside the normal units and have a relatively lower casualty rate, and have trained for years for the moment. The book also makes it clear the drawbacks to the lifestyle and the personal consequences. I liked that it was honest in that regard and Chris had a hard choice to make, his family or his job. To his credit, he chose his family and more productive endeavors.

      He was an intelligent, decent person, and I think having a conversation with him might change his views on the war in Iraq, especially since he had some big mistakes in his view on the history of it. Of course, as in the case of many combat vets, they have to believe that all their work and combat was for some good cause, no matter what the facts are. He made a BIG mistake when he claimed he got into a bar fight with a fellow SEAL Jesse Ventura and knocked him down with one punch because Jesse was bad mouthing the Iraq war and W Bush. That is costing his estate millions of dollars. So while I think I can understand Chris, he shows his feet of clay as we all do.

      The problem I do have is with the company he formed after getting out. He was training police in the arts of warfare. Why such training is needed in civilian settings is disturbing to me. That gets back to the idea of the militarization of the police who have a FAR different job and function than the military. In his book he calls the opposition savages, which is quite accurate since they have no rules of engagement, and think of civilians as legitimate targets and tools. Morphing that view to civil society promotes the view that the cops are an occupying power, not our servants. Thus the recent atrocities by the police against unarmed people. The irony is that even in Iraq, Chris was held to a higher standard than the cops in the recent shootings and killings.

      While I doubt that this movie is as mindless as a John Wayne flick in promoting the Vietnam War, it is done by Clint Eastwood who has a great history of good films with a sensitive touch. So that is one reason I will be going to see it. I will be quite surprised if it is just a pro-war propaganda film. Leave an open mind and don’t just play on stereotypes.

  19. Mike Spindell says:

    I won’t be seeing this movie, as I didn’t see Zero Dark Forty. As much as the filmmakers deny it, these movies serve as propaganda pieces , that confuse people about the needless wars following 9/11 and continue under the rubric of fighting terror. I’ve written in the pas about the influence that “Cowboy Movies” had on me growing up, particularly “High Noon” and “Shane”. Professor Richard Slotkin, who I’ve often cited in the past has written an excellent book called “Cowboy Nation” which clearly shows the deleterious influence the “Frontier Myth” has had on our national life.

    The problem is that movies reach us on an emotional level and if done well bypass our critical senses. The images produced are such that as time moves on we tend to confuse them with the actual history. The meme of a justified war overcomes the reality of those wars cruelty, stupidity and the lack of national need to prosecute them. For many whose daily lives consist of the difficulties of trying to stay afloat in their personal lives they absorb this propaganda uncritically. I understand this not because I’m above such influences, but specifically because I’ve felt their emotional tug and so can see how others would.

    Every day our senses are assaulted by input from media that tries to persuade us to have certain beliefs, or to take specific actions.It is difficult to resist, but resist we must if we are to try to live our lives in our own best interests. A dear departed fried of mine almost always wore a T shirt with the words:”Question Authority!” and indeed that is what we all must do if we are to lead our live as free thinkers, rather than automata.

  20. Elaine M. says:

    Entry 14: Clint Eastwood’s American Sniper is one of the most mendacious movies of 2014.

    I’m not knee-jerk against lying in biopics. One of my favorite moments of the year is young James Brown drawing strength in a fight by hallucinating music he won’t write for two decades. That embellishment has purpose: it underscores that James Brown is his own best champion.

    But when critics catch a film in a lie, we have to ask it, “Why?” That’s what matters. Take American Sniper, one of the most mendacious movies of 2014. Clint Eastwood was caught in a trap: His subject, murdered Navy SEAL Chris Kyle, lied a lot. In his autobiography, he said he killed two carjackers in Texas, sniped looters during Hurricane Katrina, and punched Jesse Ventura in the face. None of that was true. So Eastwood was stuck. Should he repeat Kyle’s lies as truth? Expose him as a liar? Instead, he pretended Kyle never claimed any of it, but when a film erases the fact that its subject was a fabricator, then that itself is a lie.

    The falsehoods in American Sniper are dangerous because a lot of audiences leave the theater thinking that Chris Kyle was a role model. I’ve actually gotten emails from military vets who were also troubled by the film. A lot of them are even harsher on Kyle than I’m comfortable being, in part because I’ve never served and in part because I was once attacked by Glenn Beck’s online army after poking holes in Lone Survivor. But American Sniper convinces viewers that Chris Kyle is what heroism looks like: a great guy who shoots a lot of people and doesn’t think twice about it. Watching American Sniper, I kept wondering who Kyle himself had been imitating. Sylvester Stallone? John Wayne? Or the ultimate irony, Clint Eastwood himself as Dirty Harry?

  21. Elaine M. says:

    Why Is the Real American Sniper — a Hate-Filled Killer — Being Treated as a Hero?
    Retaliation from the rightwing twittersphere about the criticism of Chris Kyle was swift and violent.

    I have to confess: I was suckered by the trailer for American Sniper. It’s a masterpiece of short-form tension – a confluence of sound and image so viscerally evocative it feels almost domineering. You cannot resist. You will be stressed out. You will feel. Or, as I believe I put it in a blog about the trailer, “Clint Eastwood’s American Sniper trailer will ruin your pants.”

    But however effective it is as a piece of cinema, even a cursory look into the film’s backstory – and particularly the public reaction to its release – raises disturbing questions about which stories we choose to codify into truth, and whose, and why, and the messy social costs of transmogrifying real life into entertainment.

    Chris Kyle, a US navy Seal from Texas, was deployed to Iraq in 2003 and claimed to have killed more than 255 people during his six-year military career. In his memoir, Kyle reportedly described killing as “fun”, something he “loved”; he was unwavering in his belief that everyone he shot was a “bad guy”. “I hate the damn savages,” he wrote. “I couldn’t give a flying fuck about the Iraqis.” He bragged about murdering looters during Hurricane Katrina, though that was never substantiated…

    Eastwood, on the other hand, Foundas says, “sees only shades of gray”, and American Sniper is a morally ambiguous, emotionally complex film. But there are a lot of Chris Kyles in the world, and the chasm between Eastwood’s intent and his audience’s reception touches on the old Chappelle’s Show conundrum: a lot of white people laughed at Dave Chappelle’s rapier racial satire for the wrong reasons, in ways that may have actually exacerbated stereotypes about black people in the minds of intellectual underachievers. Is that Chappelle’s fault? Should he care?

    Likewise, much of the US right wing appears to have seized upon American Sniper with similarly shallow comprehension – treating it with the same unconsidered, rah-rah reverence that they would the national anthem or the flag itself. Only a few weeks into its release, the film has been flattened into a symbol to serve the interests of an ideology that, arguably, runs counter to the ethos of the film itself. How much, if at all, should Eastwood concern himself with fans who misunderstand and misuse his work? If he, intentionally or not, makes a hero out of Kyle – who, bare minimum, was a racist who took pleasure in dehumanising and killing brown people – is he responsible for validating racism, murder, and dehumanisation? Is he a propagandist if people use his work as propaganda?

    That question came to the fore last week on Twitter when several liberal journalists drew attention to Kyle’s less Oscar-worthy statements. “Chris Kyle boasted of looting the apartments of Iraqi families in Fallujah,” wrote author and former Daily Beast writer Max Blumenthal. “Kill every male you see,” Rania Khalek quoted, calling Kyle an “American psycho”.

    Retaliation from the rightwing twittersphere was swift and violent,as Khalek documented in an exhaustive (and exhausting) post at Alternet. “Move your America hating ass to Iraq, let ISIS rape you then cut your cunt head off, fucking media whore muslim,” wrote a rather unassuming-looking mom named Donna. “Rania, maybe we to take you ass overthere and give it to ISIS … Dumb bitch,” offered a bearded man named Ronald, who enjoys either bass fishing or playing the bass (we may never know). “Waterboarding is far from torture,” explained an army pilot named Benjamin, all helpfulness. “I wouldn’t mind giving you two a demonstration.”

  22. Bob Stone says:


    Thank you for the thoughtful clarification.

    I haven’t read the book and don’t plan to. But I have seen the film.

    To say the film celebrates killing, American hero worship or resembles anything jingoistic is as clueless as saying that “The Deer Hunter” is a film about the Vietnam war.

  23. Elaine M. says:

    ‘American Sniper’ and the Soul of War


    American Sniper—the book, but not the movie—often delves into this uncomfortable moral territory, making the fight in Iraq seem less like a military campaign than a religious crusade. “Savage, despicable evil. That’s what we were fighting in Iraq,” writes the man insurgents branded Shaitan ar-Ramadi (the Devil of Ramadi). His pronouncement certainly sounds messianic. Yet many in the Bush administration felt exactly the same way…

    Jeremy A. Mitchell, who served as an Army sniper in Afghanistan’s treacherous Kunar province, told me that being a sniper was a “coveted position.” But it was also a difficult one, he recalls. “You lay in the same place for days,” watching for enemy movements. Mitchell would go for weeks without showering or changing. “Out in the elements the whole time,” he recalls. “You just get fatigued.”

    The genius of the Chris Kyle story is that it imbued warfare with a kind of glamorous sheen, turning the privations Mitchell describes into the stuff of macho American legend. His book is clearly written for a generation reared on PlayStation, Red Bull and Vin Diesel flicks. “Fuck, I thought to myself, this is great,” he wrote. “I fucking love this. It’s nerve-wracking and exciting and I fucking love it.” He was good at it, too, with 160 kills to his name. Yet it is hard to imagine a similar sentiment from a dogface who’d liberated Buchenwald, or from a grunt who’d spent a miserable year wading through the bloody rice paddies of Da Nang.

    Brian Van Reet, a veteran who served in Iraq, has accused Kyle and others of promulgating the “kill memoir” genre, in which the horrors of war are treated with a sunny, uncomplicated, Rumsfeldian braggadocio. Authors like Kyle, he wrote in The New York Times, “[offer] the spectacle of high body counts and terrorists twitching on the floor as proof that we are winning. Or if not that exactly, then proof we have inflicted serious damage.” Van Reet, who is now a writer, read American Sniper but has not yet seen the movie. He told me that he thought Kyle was “an embellisher” and that the movie based on his memoir is for “people who like Toby Keith,” the gratingly patriotic country singer.

  24. Mike Spindell says:

    Flint Eastwood id a great director but here’s. the problem with this movie. There is much drama and heroism to be tweeked out of a man protecting his fellow soldiers from danger and death. No American wants to see any of our troops dying and so the drama of a person skilled in shooting potential killers of our troops can be compelling in the hands of a master like Eastwood. The problem is both of the wars we fought and are still fightingwere, immoral mistakes and the people trying to kill our troops see themselves as patriots defending their homeland. There is no way that this film can’t end up appealing to people by stirring their patriotism, but in the process it will strangely be seen as a justification of our own criminal behavior in the Middle East.

  25. blouise says:

    Flint has a certain force to it. I like it better than Clint so chalk that one up for your Kindle.

  26. Mike Spindell says:

    Didn’t see that. Curses you Kindle!

  27. Elaine M. says:

    Eastwood film ‘American Sniper’ sets box office record while setting off flurry of racist tweets

    Clint Eastwood’s controversial war film ‘American Sniper,’ based on the late Chris Kyle’s autobiography, set a January box office record this weekend, taking in a reported $90 million while at the same lighting up Twitter with racist comments from some audience members saying the film inspired them to want to kill “Arabs” and Muslims.

    • randyjet says:

      Having read the book and last night saw the film, I have to say that both are superb in portraying the ambiguities of the Iraq war. To judge them by the reactions of dumb viewers is not a good measure of either. This is an excellent film and I would urge all to go see it since it is a real Clint Eastwood film, not a typical John Wayne chickenhawk one. In many ways the film is better than the book since it gives a more graphic portrayal of the costs of the war on a personal level and the effect of it on all the families involved. It leaves out some of the more typical bar fighting, hell raising parts of the book, and stays on the main theme of the war and its costs.

      In both I came away with a greater appreciation of Kyle and his motives and self awareness as he realizes how the war has drastically changed him and the costs to his family. In both one can see the basic decency of the man, and how he resolves the conflicts in many situations. So I think that once again, Clint should get a couple of Oscars out of this since it is merited.

  28. Elaine M. says:

    Bob & randyjet,

    Both my daughter and son-in-law liked the movie. As I never go to movie theaters these days, I plan to see the film when it’s available On Demand.

    • randyjet says:

      Elaine, One should not forget the irony in Kyle’s murder. He survived the Iraq war only to be killed by the same kind of evil at home that he was fighting against in Iraq. Evil does not only exist in Iraq as the comments you cite show. Kyle died fulfilling the obligation he saw to his fellow veterans as his basic character decency required and the killer saw only his money and truck as his basic goal, and he murdered Kyle to get it. The irony is that those who got the wrong message would be the kind of person who would most likely be on the side of his murderer rather than Kyle. So I only regret that I could not attend his memorial, since he was a real American hero, not just a sniper and a SEAL.

  29. Mike Spindell says:


    I don’t doubt that the movie is excellent and nuanced, Eastwood is a great director. I won’t personally see the movie because there are three movie genres that I no longer wish to see: horror, prison and war movies. I watch film emotionally and I’be found the emotion these genres raise in me are far too painful. I’ve lived with and worked with, too much pain in my life and so have reached a point where I don’t add to the horrors I’ve experienced. Yet I have no doubt that given Eastwoods artistry a fair picture is presented. The objections that I think are valid regarding this movie is that most movie goers don’t do nuance. For people 30 and under, who were in their teens during 9/11, movies such as this color history and in their way are propaganda for the myth that our troops were being attacked by people gratuitously.

  30. Elaine M. says:


    Were we the evil ones for invading a country that had nothing to do with 9/11? I think many movie goers may not entertain that thought.

  31. Elaine M. says:

    Widow of ‘American Sniper’ author curtails interviews amid criticism

    The widow of Navy SEAL Chris Kyle is facing growing blowback over her late husband’s bestselling memoir, “American Sniper,” now a hit movie and recently the subject of a defamation case by former Minnesota Gov. Jesse Ventura.

    Taya Kyle had planned to give interviews this week to promote the movie and her Feb. 8 appearance at Beth El Synagogue’s “Heroes Among Us” series, a major event at the St. Louis Park temple, with tickets ranging from $36 to $300.

    But on Monday, she canceled some interviews in the wake of criticism of her late husband’s behavior and questions about whether he should be considered a hero…

    In a federal trial last summer, Ventura won a $1.8 million verdict from the Kyle estate after convincing a jury that Chris Kyle had defamed him by writing that he decked Ventura in a bar after he made disparaging remarks about SEALs. Taya Kyle is the executor of the estate.

    John Borger, her attorney, said Monday that he has told her it’s best not to talk about the legal aspects of the case, which is currently on appeal to the 8th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals.

  32. Elaine M. says:

    The Real ‘American Sniper’ Had No Remorse About the Iraqis He Killed

    Bradley Cooper, who plays Kyle, seems beset by uncertainty and moral anxiety in the above scene. But anyone who has read Kyle’s autobiography of the same title knows that his bravado left no room for doubt. For him, the enemy are savages and despicably evil. His only regret is that he didn’t kill more. He laments that there were rules of engagement, or ROE, which he describes as being drafted by lawyers to protect generals from politicians. He argues instead for letting warriors loose to fight wars without their hands tied behind their backs. At another point, he boasts that the unofficial ROE were pretty simple: “If you see anyone from about sixteen to sixty-five and they’re male, shoot ‘em. Kill every male you see.”

    That kind of thinking, compared to Kyle’s portrayal by Eastwood, prompted Lindy West to write an article for The Guardian asking, “The real American Sniper was a hate-filled killer. Why are simplistic patriots treating him as a hero?” One answer to that question: Because many Americans are unable to accept that nothing was won in Iraq, and that the sacrifices Kyle and others made were not worth it. More fundamentally, treating Kyle as a patriot and ignoring any other possibility allows Americans to ignore the consequences of invading a country that had no weapons of mass destruction, had nothing to do with 9/11, and had no meaningful ties to Al Qaeda (our invasion, of course, changed that).

    A recent study estimates there were 461,000 war-related “excess” deaths in Iraq between 2003 and mid-2011. If true, President George W. Bush may be responsible for the deaths of more Iraqi civilians than Saddam Hussein was. But Bush is not solely culpable. We live in a democracy where the people elect the government, and therefore citizens cannot escape the blame for what it does. In that sense, it is not just Kyle who pulled the trigger. We all did.

  33. blouise says:


    I haven’t read the book but have talked with many who have, including Tex. They all hold, basically, the same opinion that there was nothing admirable going on. In fact, quite a few of them have revised their opinions of SEALs downward after reading about the purposeful baiting of young men in bars and the beat downs that followed giving the SEAL participants the satisfaction they went on the prowl to find.

    I asked Tex if he wanted to see the movie. He laughed and said something most uncomplimentary regarding tough guys and wet dreams.

  34. Bob Stone says:

    Jonah Goldberg: “The New Republic has a whole article on the movie American Sniper. In the piece, Dennis Jett claims that the movie misrepresents the real Chris Kyle. Maybe it does. Movies take liberties, after all. But this sentence doesn’t inspire confidence.

    I have not seen American Sniper. But if the trailer is any indication, Eastwood’s film, like Zero Dark Thirty, tries to make a straightforward situation more complex than it is.

    “Anyway, I would very much like to get Jett’s take on The Shining based on this trailer:”

  35. Bob Stone says:

    John Simon of New York wrote: “For all its pretensions to something newer and better, this film is only an extension of the old Hollywood war-movie lie. The enemy is still bestial and stupid, and no match for our purity and heroism; only we no longer wipe up the floor with him — rather, we litter it with his guts.”


  36. bron98 says:


    I saw the movie, some of the criticism is valid but in the end he believed in what he was doing, saving American lives. The savages were the Islamic fundamentalists and I think that moniker is applicable in light of ISIS and what they are doing.

    I am tired of people who have never seen combat talking about killing people. And more to the point giving shit to people who fought for this country. They arent the ones who should be chastised, it is the politicians and intellectuals who caused this mess.

    The movie has a character who was killed and they read a letter he wrote to his mother before he died questioning our role in Iraq.

    I thank God, providence for having never seen combat, I dont know if I could have survived. And if I did survive would I have come out unscathed? I dont think you can question why you are fighting, it lets in that little bit of doubt. The time to question is before you go to war, before you ask our young people to sacrifice. Once you go it should be to call out hell and destruction on your enemy and finish the war as quickly as possible.

    The real crime is that we have asked our young men and women to spend multiple tours in Iraq and Afghanistan, almost 15 years of war, for god’s sake. That is the real crime, the total capitulation of our elected officials to the false philosophy of a just war which protracted this war by 10 fold and let the savages get the upper hand.

    I am glad that men like Chris Kyle still exist, it gives me hope that my country is still a decent place even if the politicians and the intellectuals suck.

  37. bron98 says:

    and I also add that we were dumb as shit for electing the morons we elected and continue to elect.

  38. blouise says:

    I still haven’t watched Apocalypse Now so I’ll just add this movie to my Non-Bucket List of things I don’t have to do before I die.

  39. Blouise,

    If you’ve read Conrad’s “Heart of Darkness” it is “Apocalypse Now” with less Brando and napalm.

  40. blouise says:


    I read Heart of Darkness years ago and had been told Coppola’s Apocalypse was based on Conrad’s novella. It is one of Tex’s favorites (both book and movie).

    As far as I can tell Eastwood chose to do a film based on a book about an arcade shooter plying his skills in Iraq and relieving the tension of shooting sitting ducks by joining SEALs on the hunt for high school and college kids to beat up. Heart of Darkness to Darkness of Heart? War is hell.

  41. Elaine M. says:


    One important thing to remember is that WE invaded Iraq–a country that had nothing to do with 9/11. There was no Al Qaeda in that country until after the US invaded. The $64,000 question is–would ISIS be there now if not for our preemptive war?

  42. Elaine M. says:

    Bush Admits Al Qaeda Wasn’t In Iraq Before Invasion: “So What?”

    Un-fricking-believable. Bush, talking to ABC’s Martha Raddatz, does a Cheney on the lies leading up to the Iraq invasion and the messy misadventure of the occupation:

    BUSH: One of the major theaters against al Qaeda turns out to have been Iraq. This is where al Qaeda said they were going to take their stand. This is where al Qaeda was hoping to take–

    RADDATZ: But not until after the U.S. invaded.

    BUSH: Yeah, that’s right. So what? The point is that al Qaeda said they’re going to take a stand. Well, first of all in the post-9/11 environment Saddam Hussein posed a threat. And then upon removal, al Qaeda decides to take a stand.

    Dubya and his whole administration are determined to spin the whole of the last eight years as “ancient history”. Raddatz should have thrown out her script at that point and eaten him alive, but she didn’t. Yet another failure of the tame media, who are too afraid of losing their precious access to ask the obvious questions even now. Ian Williams of The Guardian laments the paucity of journalistic backbone on display:

    “With a few notable exceptions like Helen Thomas, Bush’s press conferences have not generated the indignation he so richly deserves from a largely quiescent White House press corps that needs government inspectors and Congressmen to tell it when it can be surprised and even occasionally indignant.

    “In a parochial way, one can understand why the press corps lacks indignation over Iraq’s 100,000 civilian dead and over two million external refugees, plus untold more internally displaced.”

    But it is still surprising that so many reporters can be polite and deferential with someone who has turned the US Federal Reserve into a giant Ponzi scheme and broken the world’s strongest economy. They defer humbly to someone who has contrived the deaths of 4,200 US servicemen and women in Iraq. It even failed to follow through on questions about the president’s murky military record with the Texas Air National Guard while his peers were dying in Vietnam

  43. Elaine M. says:

    Here’s Matt Taibbi’s review of the movie:

    ‘American Sniper’ Is Almost Too Dumb to Criticize

    I saw American Sniper last night, and hated it slightly less than I expected to. Like most Clint Eastwood movies – and I like Clint Eastwood movies for the most part – it’s a simple, well-lit little fairy tale with the nutritional value of fortune cookie that serves up a neatly-arranged helping of cheers and tears for target audiences, and panics at the thought of embracing more than one or two ideas at any time.

    It’s usually silly to get upset about the self-righteous way Hollywood moviemakers routinely turn serious subjects into baby food. Film-industry people angrily reject the notion that their movies have to be about anything (except things like “character” and “narrative” and “arc,” subjects they can talk about endlessly).

    This is the same Hollywood culture that turned the horror and divisiveness of the Vietnam War era into a movie about a platitude-spewing doofus with leg braces who in the face of terrible moral choices eats chocolates and plays Ping-Pong. The message of Forrest Gump was that if you think about the hard stuff too much, you’ll either get AIDS or lose your legs. Meanwhile, the hero is the idiot who just shrugs and says “Whatever!” whenever his country asks him to do something crazy.

    Forrest Gump pulled in over half a billion and won Best Picture. So what exactly should we have expected from American Sniper?

    Not much. But even by the low low standards of this business, it still manages to sink to a new depth or two.

    The thing is, the mere act of trying to make a typically Hollywoodian one-note fairy tale set in the middle of the insane moral morass that is/was the Iraq occupation is both dumber and more arrogant than anything George Bush or even Dick Cheney ever tried.

    No one expected twenty minutes of backstory about the failed WMD search, Abu Ghraib, or the myriad other American atrocities and quick-trigger bombings that helped fuel the rise of ISIL and other groups.

    But to turn the Iraq war into a saccharine, almost PG-rated two-hour cinematic diversion about a killing machine with a heart of gold (is there any film theme more perfectly 2015-America than that?) who slowly, very slowly, starts to feel bad after shooting enough women and children – Gump notwithstanding, that was a hard one to see coming.

    Sniper is a movie whose politics are so ludicrous and idiotic that under normal circumstances it would be beneath criticism. The only thing that forces us to take it seriously is the extraordinary fact that an almost exactly similar worldview consumed the walnut-sized mind of the president who got us into the war in question.

  44. Bob Stone says:

    Rather than view and comment on the film that Eastwood created, the left chooses to ignore it nearly in its entirety so as to use it as a launching pad for screeds having nothing to do with the actual film. Apparently the desire to live inside a bubble is not a strictly right wing phenomena.

    I truly need to research this phenomena more; i.e. perceptual blindness resulting the desire to confirm one’s ideas in lieu of a desire to comprehend the facts as they are. For example, leftist critics claim to despise the film because it dehumanizes the Iraqi people. Yet, I can’t recall any of these critics complaining about how the film “Fury” dehumanized the Germans in precisely the same manner.

    If you haven’t seen the film “Fury”, here’s a few excerpts from the NY Times review

    ‘Fury,’ Starring Brad Pitt, a Raw Look at Warfare


    “The first 20 minutes of Steven Spielberg’s “Saving Private Ryan” came much closer to what Mr. Ayer calls the war’s “ground truth.” But little in its portrayal of slaughter at Normandy hinted at what some American soldiers would do less than a year later in their final push to victory — yes, they executed prisoners and killed armed children.

    Mr. Ayer, a studio writer (“Training Day”) and indie film director (“End of Watch”), had been meditating for years on the “Fury” screenplay, but he wrote it in a burst about 18 months ago. “It sort of exploded out,” he said. “I wrote it for me.”

    The resulting movie, Mr. Ayer said, was intended both as a personal journey and as a correction to the pop cultural record.

    On the personal front, “Fury” is meant to unlock the psychology of Mr. Ayer’s older relations, who fought but seldom spoke of it. And the film trades on his own military experience as a sonar operator on an attack submarine in the 1980s.

    “Looking back into World War II, I could see the same family I was serving with,” Mr. Ayer said. “But what they experienced was really incomprehensible to me.”

    The time also seemed right for an honest look at those who were fighting and dying in ferocious encounters even as the German surrender was imminent, he said. “There is a lot of contemporary parallel here,” Mr. Ayer said, referring to soldiers who confront death in Afghanistan, for instance, even as American engagement there is supposed to be ending.

    Their problem is that of Mr. Pitt’s character, known as Wardaddy, and the four tankers — portrayed by Logan Lerman, Shia LaBeouf, Michael Peña and Jon Bernthal — whom he has pledged to keep alive, Mr. Ayer said.

    In Mr. Ayer’s story, the crew of a tank called Fury, one of about 10 real Shermans used in the film, have fought their way from Africa, to Normandy, across the Rhine and into Germany.

    Ragged, worried, and, in the case of Mr. Peña’s Trini Garcia, almost always drunk, they can see the war’s end. But they can’t quite reach it.

    As the movie opens, they are preparing to scrape the remains of a headless buddy from the bow gunner’s seat. “I sure didn’t keep him alive,” Mr. Pitt mutters.

    Much of what his Wardaddy does may shock viewers who have watched American soldiers behave brutally in Vietnam War films at least since “Apocalypse Now,” but have rarely seen ugliness in the heroes of World War II.

    In his harsh initiation of a new gunner, Mr. Pitt’s character crosses lines, both legal and moral. Not even Lee Marvin’s Sergeant Possum in Samuel Fuller’s “The Big Red One,” another knife killer, went quite so far.

    Yet the portrayal is grounded in years of research that left the back corners of Mr. Ayer’s office crammed with books and war memorabilia.

    “He had every type of camouflage, and weapons, and uniforms,” said John Lesher, another of the film’s producers, recalling a trip to Mr. Ayer’s man cave in the Silverlake district of Los Angeles.

    Through all of it, Mr. Ayer, whose grandfather was serving on a submarine at Pearl Harbor at the time of its attack and whose uncle flew B-17 missions in Europe, learned what some who had made a deep study of the so-called “Greatest Generation” already knew: American fighters were not saints.

    Tom Brokaw, who wrote a book by that title, remembers being told by one veteran of the war, “After the Germans killed my brother, I never took another P.O.W. alive.”

    “Remember, they were fighting a hardened enemy that glorified the SS,” Mr. Brokaw wrote in a recent email.

    “It was a long, brutal war, up close and personal,” he added. “A number of veterans I interviewed alluded to behavior they weren’t proud of, but neither did they apologize.”


  45. Mike Spindell says:


    I’ll take Taibbi’s take on the movie.

  46. Mike Spindell says:

    Blouse “Apocolypse Now” is a very good movie about the Vietnam War but gets iittle muddled in the end. The performances of the 3 lead actors are superb and well worth the experience.

  47. blouise says:

    Dubya and his whole administration are determined to spin the whole of the last eight years as “ancient history”. – from Bush Admits Al Qaeda Wasn’t In Iraq Before Invasion: “So What?” above

    Oh Dubya, didn’t you learn anything during those eight years? You’re still making history, kiddo, and doing it as badly as you did during your two terms as President. I know you’re trying to fill the potholes and smooth the surface for your brother’s run but those IEDs you planted years ago are buried pretty deep and Cheney took the map with him as insurance against war crime charges.

  48. Jon says:

    We should definitely listen to Matt Taibbi’s review. Because Taibbi, like most people on this blog, knows ALL about being in the military.

  49. blouise says:

    President Bush will leave office as one of the most unpopular departing presidents in history, according to a new CBS News/New York Times poll showing Mr. Bush’s final approval rating at 22 percent.

    Seventy-three percent say they disapprove of the way Mr. Bush has handled his job as president over the last eight years. – CBSNEWSCBS January 16, 2009, 5:48 PM
     “I don’t think there’s any Bush baggage at all,” Jeb said; adding that “history will be kind to George W. Bush.” – FOXNEWS 3/10/13 with Chris Wallace
    American Sniper is nothing more than another Clint Eastwood Empty Chair routine.

  50. bron98 says:


    The folks who liked American Sniper are just simple minded, gun totin, rednecks driving a ford or chevy with a case of beer and an old hound dog named Blu in the bed. Oh and dont forget the gun rack with the Winchester lever action 30-30 and the Browning auto in 12 ga.

  51. Elaine M. says:

    Taibbi–like many other Americans–knows how we were lied into a war with Iraq by the “powers that be”… with help from the mainstream media. We sent young soldiers into war under false pretenses. We should channel our anger toward the individuals responsible for that.

  52. bron98 says:

    Ah, nothing like taking shots at a dead man. A quintesential American male, full of testosterone and a certified bad ass to boot. What is it, fear of the masculine or fear of the ideal? The Crocodile Hunter was maligned in the same way.

    Did the Greeks do this to their heros? Tear them down, defile them?

  53. Bob Stone says:

    “American Sniper is nothing more than another Clint Eastwood Empty Chair routine.”


  54. Jon says:

    Bron-Exactly. It is really nuanced thinking: We were wrong to go to Iraq (I actually agree with that part); Chris Kyle served in Iraq. Therefore, Chris Kyle is bad.

    I wish people could see just how much the individuals of our military agonize over our decisions. I was (and am) a big believer in St. Augustine’s “just war” theory. You can’t control being sent to war, but you can control how you, and the men under your command, conduct themselves within your own sphere of influence. I thought the movie did a wonderful job of conveying that sentiment.

    And saying Taibbi “knows the military” because he imbedded with servicemen & women is like saying a janitor knows heart surgery because he cleans toilets in a hospital.

  55. Bob Stone says:

    “President Bush will leave office as one of the most unpopular departing presidents in history, according to a new CBS News/New York Times poll showing Mr. Bush’s final approval rating at 22 percent.

    Seventy-three percent say they disapprove of the way Mr. Bush has handled his job as president over the last eight years. – CBSNEWSCBS January 16, 2009, 5:48 PM
    “I don’t think there’s any Bush baggage at all,” Jeb said; adding that “history will be kind to George W. Bush.” – FOXNEWS 3/10/13 with Chris Wallace
    American Sniper is nothing more than another Clint Eastwood Empty Chair routine.”

    Quite the syllogism, let me try one:

    The Bush Administration defrauded the country into war with Iraq.

    Vincent Bugliosi makes a compelling case to prosecute Bush for murder.

    Therefore I think I like chocolate.

  56. Elaine M. says:

    Jon said: “We were wrong to go to Iraq (I actually agree with that part); Chris Kyle served in Iraq. Therefore, Chris Kyle is bad.”

    Did you infer that anyone who has criticized the movie “American Sniper” believes that? Is that what you call nuanced thinking?

  57. blouise says:

    Truth hurts

  58. Jon says:

    Elaine-Oh please. You post Taibbi’s review (a piece that puts the word hero in quotes and calls Kyle a “dick”) then try to pretend you’re not critical of Kyle. Try again.

  59. Elaine M. says:


    If someone is crtical of Chris Kyle that means they think that all those who served in the military in Iraq are bad? I think YOU should try again.

  60. Bob Stone says:

    Jon: “You can’t control being sent to war, but you can control how you, and the men under your command, conduct themselves within your own sphere of influence.”


    For leftist critics, soldiers like Chris Kyle are to be looked down upon as immoral slobs. How dare they fight a war they were told to fight when the Bush administration did… blah blah blah.

    I say “blah blah bah” because the fact that the Bush administration defrauded the country into war with Iraq has ABSOLUTELY NOTHING TO DO with the soldiers that carried out their orders.

    The leftist critics, in trying to prove their moral superiority, are actually making an immoral argument in furtherance of injustice and the eventual decay of society.

    A soldier’s job is not to question orders. A soldier’s job is to follow orders. For Plato, Justice exists when the soldier is doing his assigned job and defending the state as told.

    The critics that can’t watch the film American Sniper without saddling the main character with the sins of the Bush administration, i.e. completely ignoring that a soldier’s job is not to question why, are truly the ones bereft of a conscience much less any sense of justice.

    Imagine Eisenhower’s chances of success in pulling off the Normandy invasion if all the soldiers adopted the same line of thinking as the leftist critics panning the film “American Sniper.”

    Wir alle würden sein Deutsch zu sprechen.

  61. Jon says:

    “Imagine Eisenhower’s chances of success in pulling off the Normandy invasion if all the soldiers adopted the same line of thinking as the leftist critics panning the film “American Sniper.””

    Bob-I’d rather not imagine such a world.

  62. Bob Stone says:

    Jon: “I’d rather not imagine such a world.”

    Oh, you mean the one where … Wir alle würden sein Deutsch zu sprechen? (translated: “We’d all be speaking German?”)

    Amazon released a pilot TV show based on that premise.


  63. Jon says:

    Bob-Looks interesting. I’ll have to check that out. Thanks!

  64. I find myself in partial agreement with Bob.

    The moral onus of a war rests not with the soldiers but with those who lay the plans and issue the orders. Military training, no matter what army or at what time, has one commonality. It is designed to strip individuality to a large enough degree to engender compliance with orders with little or no question. This trainings success is dependent not just upon the design of the training itself, but the susceptibility of the individual. To blame a solider for the “wrongness” of their actions misses the point unless they have completely “gone off the ranch” such as in My Lai. Even then one must consider that a person of unsuitable temperament was placed in a high stress situation that could only serve to exacerbate any underlying pathologies that could drive them to acts of extreme cruelty. The onus of bad acts in war can only rest with command absent that exigent circumstance.

    This is only one side of a coin.

    The other side of the coin is the public’s reaction to films like this. Of course they saddle Kyle with the baggage associated with carrying the weight of the crimes committed by their nominally elected rulers in the Bush Administration. Why? It is an easy outlet to decry injustices they feel were done but unanswered for by said administration. The mechanism is called “displacement”.

    We all know who the real guilty parties are here (unless you’re just so partisan that you are blind to the facts leading up to the invasion of Iraq, another pathology in and of itself). But both sides of this coin are conjoined. Displacement will continue as a natural reaction so long as justice is denied and justice will continue to be denied until Bush, Cheney, Wolfowitz, Perle and the rest of the gang are not wearing orange and worried about dropping the soap. “If you can’t attack the beast’s head, go for its claws” is probably wired in to our semi-aquatic plains ape brains.

    And as is far too often in human nature, the snake eats its tail.

    Is the movie a good piece of cinema? Probably so. Eastwood is a very good director. “Unforgiven” is probably a cinema masterpiece. “Zero Dark Thirty” was also technically a good movie. It was also utter bullshit apologist propaganda, but it was technically a good film. The same may be the case here, but not having seen it, I cannot judge its propaganda value versus any “artistic license” that was taken in the name of good screenwriting so I will not comment to that point.

    But piling on Kyle’s personal faults whatever they might have been misses the point in the Causality Game of Blame. The blame rests with those who put the man in the situation he was in for fraudulent reasons that didn’t hide well if at all their personal political and personal profit motives in attacking a country that had nothing to do with 9/11.

    Having said that, I’m going to suggest that Jon read the rules for this blog before he inadvertently runs afoul of them.

    • Bob Stone says:

      ““Zero Dark Thirty” was also technically a good movie. It was also utter bullshit apologist propaganda, but it was technically a good film. ”

      But how can you call it a technically good film if the bullshit propaganda makes you (made me at least) cringe?

  65. In re: “The Man in the High Castle”

    I suggest reading the book first. Dick was a science fiction writer with a truly uncanny sense of not only the inevitable consequences of technology upon society, but of the human condition itself.

  66. blouise says:


    Now you’re just spoiling my fun. I love the smell of right wing righteous indignation in the evening.

  67. On these points about individual behavior in wartime, I suggest reading the piece I wrote about the encounter between Charlie Brown and Franz Stigler in the skies over France. I closed the story with a quote from commenter “CanisMaximus” on Daily Kos about the story:

    War is horror. And mine will always be a voice for peace. But when war becomes our only recourse, I can only hope warriors such as these are conducting it.
    – CanisMaximus


  68. Bob Stone says:


    I loved that post and story.

  69. Bob Stone says:

    I’m off to watch episode one of the last season of Justified.

  70. swarthmoremom says:

    “Former GOP vice presidential nominee Sarah Palin addressed “Hollywood leftists” with their “shiny plastic trophies” on Monday in a Facebook post responding to criticism about the movie “American Sniper.”

    Palin criticized these “leftists” for “spitting on the graves of freedom fighters” and decried that the opponents of the movie were “not fit to shine Chris Kyle’s combat boots.”

    Kyle, the subject of the Hollywood blockbuster, was a Navy SEAL who served as a sniper and wrote an autobiography with the same title as the movie: “American Sniper.”

    Since premiering, the film has received criticism for its glorification of the American military and categorization of opposition forces. Liberal documentary filmmaker Michael Moore and comedian Seth Rogen were among the vocal critics of the film.” Talking Points Memo

  71. Bob,

    “But how can you call it a technically good film if the bullshit propaganda makes you (made me at least) cringe?”

    Because technique is not content, grasshopper. I don’t have to like what someone does with their kung fu to admire their proficiency as an artist.

  72. swarthmoremom says:

    http://www.nytimes.com/2014/12/25/movies/american-sniper-a-clint-eastwood-film-starring-bradley-cooper.html?&_r=0 “The politics of the Iraq war are entirely absent, which is a political statement in its own right. And though George W. Bush’s name is never invoked, “American Sniper” can be seen as an expression of nostalgia for his Manichaean approach to foreign policy. It can equally — and this may amount to the same thing — be seen as upholding the Hollywood western tradition of turning complicated historical events and characters into fables and heroes. In other words, it’s only a movie.” A O Scott gives this movie a “60”. The Wall St. Journal gives it a “90”. It is not on my list of movies to see,

  73. swarthmoremom says:

    see. Should not try to type without glasses.

  74. Elaine M. says:


    Some people only hear what they want to hear when we so-called leftist critics criticize anything that some people think should Be held above criticism. Early in this thread, I wrote the following:

    “I wasn’t aware that our country’s walls extended to Iraq–a country that we invaded even though it had nothing to do with 9/11. We shouldn’t have started that war. Many innocent Iraqis lost their lives in that war–as did many American soldiers. I’ll save my anger for those who were the perpetrators of 9/11 and the politicians who lied and got us into a war with Iraq.”

    I said something similar at 8:28 pm this evening.



    Ah, yes, that righteous indignation. But, then again, we members of the leftist mob are just so annoying. You know how we like to question things.

  75. Elaine M. says:

    The 2014 Movie Club
    Entry 14: Clint Eastwood’s American Sniper is one of the most mendacious movies of 2014.

    But when critics catch a film in a lie, we have to ask it, “Why?” That’s what matters. Take American Sniper, one of the most mendacious movies of 2014. Clint Eastwood was caught in a trap: His subject, murdered Navy SEAL Chris Kyle, lied a lot. In his autobiography, he said he killed two carjackers in Texas, sniped looters during Hurricane Katrina, and punched Jesse Ventura in the face. None of that was true. So Eastwood was stuck. Should he repeat Kyle’s lies as truth? Expose him as a liar? Instead, he pretended Kyle never claimed any of it, but when a film erases the fact that its subject was a fabricator, then that itself is a lie.

    The falsehoods in American Sniper are dangerous because a lot of audiences leave the theater thinking that Chris Kyle was a role model. I’ve actually gotten emails from military vets who were also troubled by the film. A lot of them are even harsher on Kyle than I’m comfortable being, in part because I’ve never served and in part because I was once attacked by Glenn Beck’s online army after poking holes in Lone Survivor. But American Sniper convinces viewers that Chris Kyle is what heroism looks like: a great guy who shoots a lot of people and doesn’t think twice about it. Watching American Sniper, I kept wondering who Kyle himself had been imitating. Sylvester Stallone? John Wayne? Or the ultimate irony, Clint Eastwood himself as Dirty Harry?

  76. I never read critics of movies or any other public presentation. Everyone has tastes as well as opinions. IIRC, many shows have been panned, only to go on and become hits. And vice versa. Some wag once said, “Opinions are like assholes. Everybody has one.”

    I have not been to a movie in years. It will take a heck of a movie to get me out of the house. I have multiple problems. First of all, I see through most special effects easily, so that is ruined. I have trouble suspending belief when the scene is unbelievable. That is most of them, especially when it comes to action movies. Producers take a perfectly good story and hack it into unrecognizable pieces. I understand the tampon scene in “Fifty Shades of Grey” was left on the cutting room floor, as a case in point.

    I have seen Oliver Stone on other programs. Jeopardy comes to mind. He comes across as a nitwit and conspiracy theorist.

    Most war movies are either openly jingoistic, or historically inaccurate. Usually both. Same can be said for many documentaries. Just tell the damn story the way it was. They don’t need to introduce “theatrical tension.” There is enough in war anyway. I did see “The Hurt Locker.” It was reasonably well done, but the only scene in the movie that rang true to me was when he got home and did not adjust to civilian life. He went back. He missed the feeling of being alive. You are never more alive than when living on the edge between life and death. That is a truism throughout the ages. The greatest peak experiences of my life were those moments when every decision, every action, could result in that moment being my last.

  77. blouise says:


    Eisenhower, Nazi Germany, they were winding themselves up nicely. It was going so well. I was going to post: “Swooning over here; bring the smelling salts”, but then Gene jumped in and ruined all my fun.

    Oh well, there’ll be another day and another dog.

  78. Mike Spindell says:


    To imply that one has to be in the military, or fought in war to understand the military, puts the military above reproach. Put in that position the individual military personnel have no restraints on their activities and a President really shouldn’t have authority over the troops prosecution of military engagements. One might almost postulate that one shouldn’t be s President without having served. An interesting, yet untenable position for you to take.

  79. Elaine M. says:

    Iraq = Germany

    Is this the new military math?

  80. blouise17 says:

    “And though George W. Bush’s name is never invoked, “American Sniper” can be seen as an expression of nostalgia for his Manichaean approach to foreign policy.”

    The empty chair

  81. bron98 says:


    Mike is right and wrong. The military should be under the control of the civilians but I think the president, as commander in chief, should have military experience. He doesnt necessarily need combat but he should have served. I dont think it should be required by law but the people should require it.


    the link is a criticism of “Just War Theory.” It is worth the read, let me know what you think.

  82. Elaine M. says:

    Bron said:

    “Ah, nothing like taking shots at a dead man. A quintesential American male, full of testosterone and a certified bad ass to boot. What is it, fear of the masculine or fear of the ideal? The Crocodile Hunter was maligned in the same way.

    “Did the Greeks do this to their heros? Tear them down, defile them?”


    People may have a difference of opinion about what the ideal American male is. What is masculine? What is courage? Maybe if we had had more people of courage in Congress who stood up to the Bush Administration when it wanted to start a war with Iraq, people like Kyle would not have had to go into battle. Unfortunately, we didn’t have enough brave souls who were willing to speak out because they feared being perceived as chickens/doves instead of bad asses.

  83. swarthmoremom says:

    “He doesnt necessarily need combat but he should have served. I dont think it should be required by law but the people should require it.” bron Totally disagree with that statement. What is with the “He”? i guess Bush’s hit and miss national guard service would have qualified him.

  84. Elaine M. says:


    We need to elect bad-ass, masculine men with lots of testosterone who have served in the military as president!


  85. Bob Kauten says:

    “Did the Greeks do this to their heros? Tear them down, defile them?”
    Intriguing question, for a couple of reasons.

    1. Why does it matter whether the Greeks did this to their heroes? We aren’t the Greeks. The Greeks were fools, in a lot of ways. We can do foolishness in our own way, no example needed.
    2. I certainly hope that some of the Greeks were capable of independent thinking. Judging by the comments here, they’d have to be leftists, to do that. That’s rather damning of the ‘rightists,’ isn’t it? But we didn’t know any of the Greeks, did we? We have only the opinions of a few select Greeks to go by.

    Oh, and if the president needs to have been a former military person, we’ve become a nation ruled by the military. A blacksmith tends to think that every problem requires a hammer and anvil. We’d become an imperialistic, perpetual war machine. Oops.
    I think we all know what would happen if every mayor or district attorney had been a cop. It’s happening, already, without meeting that criterion.

    Speaking of the word ‘critical,’ of course you can admire a film’s artistry or technical achievement, if the premise of it is total bullshit.
    People who can do that are called ‘film critics.’
    Leni Riefenstahl’s work is a cliche example, by now.

  86. blouise says:

    “He doesnt necessarily need combat but he should have served. I dont think it should be required by law but the people should require it.” – Bron

    And he should be at least 6’2″, blue eyes, with a well defined member. And a dimple. And all his own teeth. And know how to dance. And, I agree, he doesn’t necessarily need combat.

  87. swarthmoremom says:

    Elaine, I think these conservatives are mixed up. Both Gore and Kerry served while some say Bush went awol from the national guard. I guess he appeared to have more testosterone than the “french” Kerry. Older women such as Clinton and Warren did not really have much of an opportunity to serve in the military. I would not have volunteered for Vietnam as Gore did had that been an option.That leaves Joanie Ernst, the new right wing star. lol

  88. swarthmoremom says:

    And Bernie Sanders did “serve”. He served as a civil rights worker.

  89. blouise says:

    SwM and Elaine,

    Republicans had to pull their abortion bill due to rebellion from within over the wording. Their War on Women needs a hero.

  90. Elaine M. says:


    GOP wants to define rape… again: How Lindsey Graham reawakened the ghost of Todd Akin
    Lindsey Graham asks pro-lifers to solve the “definitional problem of rape.” He thinks that’ll help. Bless his heart
    by Joan Walsh

    Ah, Lindsey Graham. The South Carolina senator who says he’s thinking about running for president no doubt thought he was helping the GOP get beyond its meltdown over its 20-week abortion ban bill, which leadership dropped unexpectedly when some GOP congresswomen balked, by asking antiabortion zealots attending the “March for Life” to help him “find a way out of this definitional problem with rape.”

    One major issue with the bill was the way it defined rape: a women would have to have made a police report in order to get an abortion under the bill’s rape exception. (Katie McDonough has the details here.) Most rape victims don’t report the crime.

    So Graham went to the “March for Life” today and came clean with the group, which is seething over its betrayal by GOP leadership. There’s going to be some kind of rape exception in the bill, and he needs their input to shape it.

    “I’m going to need your help to find a way out of this definitional problem with rape,” Graham told the marchers, according to Dave Weigel. ”We need to find a consensus position on the rape exception. The rape exception will be part of the bill. We just need to find a way definitionally to not get us into a spot where we’re debating what legitimate is. That’s not the cause. We’re not here debating legitimate rape. We’re talking about saving babies at 20 weeks.”

  91. Mike Spindell says:

    A good article about the movie.

  92. blouise says:


    I tell you, they really do need a hero for this War on Women. I’m going to suggest x-Pfc. Lynndie England. I’m also going to suggest Eastwood as producer/director cause he’s really good at sanitizing stuff. She was, after all, simply following orders and doing a dirty job that somebody had to do. In her own way she was saving us from becoming Germans. Then she got pregnant and didn’t abort. Eastwood can work with that. It would be a really great role for a female … maybe even worthy of an Oscar nomination.

    Working title: A Few Good Women, but I think she, like Kyle, released a biography entitled – Tortured: Lynndie England, Abu Ghraib and the Photographs that Shocked the World so there is something to work with.

  93. swarthmoremom says:


    “Hillary Clinton has a double-digit lead nationally among registered voters over five of her top Republican rivals, according to a Washington Post/ABC News poll released Thursday.

    In hypothetical general election matchups, Clinton leads Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) and former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush (R) 54 percent to 41 percent; New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie (R), 53 percent to 40 percent; Mitt Romney 55 percent to 40 percent; and Mike Huckabee 56 percent to 39 percent.”
    Not sure that any of these guys served.

  94. blouise says:

    Well where Jeb is concerned we do know that “He opposed the Vietnam War, to the point that he seriously considered registering as a conscientious objector rather than submitting to the draft.” – Jeb: America’s Next Bush, by S.V. Date, p. 3 , Feb 15, 2007 (hardcover on Amazon)

    Romney never served but h did support the war in Nam – “Romney used his student deferment at that time to avoid military service. He then left Stanford for two years of Mormon missionary work in France, for which he received another draft deferment.

    When Romney was back in the states – after his mission work – and had transferred to Brigham Young University, the draft was changed to a lottery. Romney received a high enough number that he permanently escaped being in the military, even though he supported the Vietnam War and the draft.” – Tuesday, 23 October 2012 11:02 , Mitt Romney Avoided Military Service While He Supported Vietnam War and Draft, Truthout

    Don’t know about Christie but he does know how to disable bridges.

    As to Huckabee … I’m not interested enough to look it up.

  95. bron98 says:

    He/she I dont care who is president. Boudica certainly gave the Romans hell. I also said it shouldnt be required by law.

    6′-2″ with blond hair and blue eyes. Blouise does Tex know? Or is that Tex as a younger man?

    I like my women tall and Italian so I understand your pain, why are all the beautiful people fascists?

    Too bad more politicians didnt vote against the war in Iraq, well we voted for them. Maybe we dont have any balls? Or ovaries as the case may be.

  96. bron98 says:


    Romans, Greeks, Americans, AD 50, BC 500, AD 2015 it doesnt really matter, people are people. The eras change but not the individual. That is why people make the same mistakes, they fail to take the lessons of history and apply them in their own time or to their own lives. The principles are the same, war is war and always will be because a human being fighting in the Peloponnesian war or the US Civil War or WWII or Viet Nam or Iraq responds in the same way emotionally.

  97. blouise says:

    … why are all the beautiful people fascists? – Bron

    More importantly, how did you and I, beautiful to our very core, escape that political persuasion?

  98. Bob Kauten says:

    I have repeatedly parsed your last comment. Despite strong foreboding, I must admit that I agree with what you said. I placed a short-distance call to Hades, to inquire concerning the temperature, there. I was put on hold.

  99. Elaine M. says:


    You’ve got to go looking for people who are beautiful on the inside. I doubt those folks would be fascists.

    Speaking for myself– I like a man who respects women, has a great sense of humor, and knows his way around the kitchen. That’s mighty beautiful to me.

  100. “why are all the beautiful people fascists?” – Bron

    Have you seen pictures of Mussolini or Hitler or Franco? Their underlings? If you think they were beautiful, I suggest that you have a very odd definition of beauty. Most of them would have had to tie a pork chop around their neck to get a dog to play with them. Much like their modern American counterparts. Besides, the wrapper is unimportant. Fascists – actual fascists not your floating definition that usually means whatever you don’t like and/or understand – are ugly in a way that goes straight through the bone and down to the cellular level.

  101. Bob Kauten says:

    Beauty is only skin deep, but ugly is to the bone.

  102. gbk says:


    “That is why people make the same mistakes, they fail to take the lessons of history and apply them in their own time or to their own lives.”

    Introspection is a much maligned skill in today’s world. Or is this another non-inclusive set of yours?

  103. bron98 says:


    Most people need help doing it. A wife is always good for pointing out your imperfections. I thought I was damn near perfect until I got married, wow, I couldnt believe an individual could have that many flaws.

  104. gbk says:


    Yeah, I know what you mean! I’m still perfect, though, despite my wife’s claims to the contrary. 🙂

    However, for years you’ve claimed others are fascist in their perspective; yet you state:

    “. . . but I think the president, as commander in chief, should have military experience. He doesnt necessarily need combat but he should have served. I dont think it should be required by law but the people should require it.”

    Mirrors are inexpensive, Bron.

    I can’t think of a darker path to go down than what you have suggested; though I must admit my imagination has waned in these latter years.

  105. Mike Spindell says:


    Thank you. I was trying to post the OpEd News article by Michael Payne. It provides not only an excellent perspective on the movie, but also provided the facts demolishing the person the movie was based on. Orton was not only far from being a hero, in fact he appears to have been a despicable liar. Now anticipating the ire of some who wouldismiss the critique as “weak kneed liberal blather” I would suggest instead that they refute the facts about Orton as proven in the article. That some would glorify a murderous creep sadly besmirches the truth about the real warriors who have served their coubtry.

  106. bron98 says:


    The majority of our presidents have had military experience. Especially the ones at the beginning of our Republic when we were much more free than we are now.

    A properly educated officer corps is an impediment to a dictatorship. Hopefully they are teaching the DOI and the Constitution at our service acadamies.

  107. gbk says:


    “A properly educated officer corps is an impediment to a dictatorship.”

    I would change the wording to:

    A properly educated electorate is an impediment to a dictatorship.

    In a slip of philosophical obtuseness you forget who is paying the bill. This doesn’t sound like you, Bron.

  108. bron98 says:


    I agree with you about the electorate of course. But Hitler came to power through a popular vote by an educated electorate. Had the officer corps been properly educated maybe WWII would have never happened?

  109. gbk says:


    You forget the human frailties of greed, lust for power, and the mindset of a populace — manipulated through propaganda — eager to extract some perceived revenge in your analogy.

    Does any of this sound familiar?

  110. Bob Kauten says:

    “The majority of our presidents have had military experience. Especially the ones at the beginning of our Republic when we were much more free than we are now.”
    But that would argue against presidents having military experience, wouldn’t it? Doesn’t chronology imply causality? Presidents having military service resulted in “our” loss of freedom?
    And who is “we”?
    People of African descent? Women? Native Americans? Children? Indentured servants?
    Propertied men of European descent were more free to enslave, or kill, those others.

    Forget teaching military officers the Declaration of Independence. It documents a squabble between colonial aristocrats and England. A squabble that equally independent Canada never bothered with.
    Teach that King George is a “tyrant,” who “…has endeavoured to bring on the inhabitants of our frontiers, the merciless Indian Savages, whose known rule of warfare, is an undistinguished destruction of all ages, sexes and conditions?”
    Yow! Such an example of projection!
    Teach that MEN “…are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights…?
    Leave the deities out of public life. We already have church and state separation problems, no thanks.
    King George is dead, and so are the merciless Indian Savages, for the most part.
    I only wish the same for revisionist history.

    Other than that, I have no problem with your argument. Party on, bron!

  111. gbk says:


    Let me rephrase my last comment:

    Your analogy discards the human frailties of greed, lust for power, and the mindset of a populace — manipulated through propaganda in ignoring yet justifying past actions — eager to extract revenge through which their “superior” culture can manifest.

    Does any of this sound familiar?

  112. Bob Kauten says:

    And, I’d like to point out, in my defense, that my response to bron was quite respectful.
    I did NOT say, “bron, do you have a turd in your pocket? Who is this “we” that you speak of?

  113. gbk says:


    I’ll leave it at this:

    “That is why people make the same mistakes, they fail to take the lessons of history and apply them in their own time or to their own lives.

    Introspection is a much maligned skill in today’s world.”


  114. “I agree with you about the electorate of course. But Hitler came to power through a popular vote by an educated electorate.” – Bron

    A common misconception. The most the Nazis every garnered in a free and fair election was about 37% (the German federal election of 1932). Before that, they largely got much lower numbers. High teens at best and single digit at worst. This was due in no small part to the fractionation of the political parties in Germany in general. The Reichstag was a hodgepodge of parties so embroiled in partisanship you couldn’t get them to agree the sky was blue. This created a power vacuum which the Nazis were able to fill without ever winning the popular vote. Of course, once in office, their stranglehold on the German government was sealed by a cabal of backroom deals until Hindenburg’s death in August of 1934. Hitler was appointed chancellor by Hindenburg (rather reluctantly) after two elections in 1932 had failed to produce a majority government. Upon Hindenburg’s death, the “Law Concerning the Highest State Office of the Reich” went into effect. This law dissolved the office of president and merged its powers with those of the chancellor. After that, well, everyone pretty much knows (or should know) what happened.

    But win a popular election? Never really happened.

    Also, those who did vote for Hitler tended to be poor and uneducated. His appeal was to the underclass who suffered the most under the financial burdens war reparations from WWI caused to Germany. Most of the educated people? Were probably scared shitless of him and the Nazis. Or they dismissed them as a joke.

    Tea anyone?

  115. gbk says:

    Do we get cucumber sandwiches too?

  116. blouise says:


    Hitler often referred to emotion as a kind of doorway or “gateway” into the human heart and mind.

    Following are his thoughts as expressed in Mein Kampf:

    “All great movements are popular movements, volcanic eruptions of human passions and emotional sentiments, stirred either by the cruel Goddess of Distress or by the firebrand of the word hurled among the masses … Only a storm of hot passion can turn the destinies of peoples … It alone gives its chosen one the words which like hammer blows can open the gates to the heart of a people …

    “The function of propaganda does not lie in the scientific training of the individual, but in calling the masses’ attention to certain facts, processes, necessities, etc., whose significance is thus for the first time placed within their field of vision. The whole art consists in doing this so skillfully that everyone will be convinced that the fact is real, the process necessary, the necessity correct, etc. But since propaganda is not and cannot be the necessity in itself, since its function, like the poster, consists in attracting the attention of the crowd, and not in educating those who are already educated or who are striving after education and knowledge, its effect for the most part must be aimed at the emotions and only to a very limited degree at the so-called intellect …The more modest its intellectual ballast, the more exclusively it takes into consideration the emotions of the masses, the more effective it will be…”

    The German Officer Corp was as susceptible to this manipulation as the rest of the population, perhaps more so because Hitler as helping them throw off the humiliations brought about by the Treaty of Versailles. I think you are better read on this subject than I so I don’t think I’m telling you something you don’t already know. 😉

    The old has become new again as Eastwood morphs Kyle into a hero.

  117. Bob K.,

    “I did NOT say, ‘bron, do you have a turd in your pocket?'”

    No you didn’t. However, he is glad to see you.

  118. gbk says:

    “The old has become new again . . .”

    This is true, but the Nazi’s never had cherry pie, nor cucumber sandwiches!

  119. blouise says:

    They had noodles and wienerschnitzel and beer and lots of rules

  120. gbk says:

    “The had noodles . . . ”

    Who doesn’t?

    I suppose I could forgo the cucumber sandwiches given the lederhosen — but only if they were worn by young nubile women perpetuating a greater good.

  121. They were not armed with that most mystic of power rites, the Chicken Dance. It was composed by a Swiss accordion player in the ’50’s. But for that? Who knows how Normandy would have turned out.

  122. pete says:

    bron98 says:
    January 22, 2015 at 5:17 pm

    Most people need help doing it. A wife is always good for pointing out your imperfections. I thought I was damn near perfect until I got married, wow, I couldnt believe an individual could have that many flaws.

    That’s why I’m single, I get to keep my sanity and my opinion of myself. If you want something around that thinks you’re a god, get a dog. To a cat you’re just a convenient lap with thumbs.

  123. Bob Kauten says:

    So that wasn’t a ten-gallon hat in bron’s lap?
    -Lili von Schtupp almost said that

  124. pete says:

    Bob K

    Thanks, I’m going to save that.

  125. blouise says:

    Bob K,

    Wow … that’s powerful

  126. Bob Kauten says:

    I predict that the graphic will make some people very angry.

  127. blouise says:

    Bob K.,

    Yep … damn good.

  128. Mike Spindell says:

    Bob K,

    Great photo.

  129. bron98 says:


    Hitler did win an election although he did not get a majority, I think there were 6 or 7 parties that year.


  130. bron98 says:

    Firstly, youth support for the NSDAP cannot be divorced from issues of class and confession. Of the new members, 47 per cent were workers (under-representing them as a percentage of the population as a whole), whereas white-collar employees at 20 per cent were overrepresented and the old middle class of the self-employed at 27 per cent more so. Secondly, the KPD was also successful in mobilising the support of a significant section of German youth, though this support was much more clearly located among the unemployed and manual workers of the large towns than was that of the Nazi Party. Thirdly, the NSDAP was arguably most successful of all in picking up the votes of pensioners and the elderly. This group, especially the women, constituted the largest reservoir of previous non-voters in the early 1930s, and the party made a specific bid for the support of pensioners, the elderly and war veterans who had seen the value of their pensions and savings eroded. Here again the Nazis enjoyed success with those lacking previously strong political or ideological ties. As the rate of electoral participation increased (from 74.6 per cent in 1928 to 83.4 per cent in July 1932), so the NSDAP picked up the new votes not only of the young and newly enfranchised, but also of this geriatric electorate.

  131. Bron,

    We have a semantic difference going on here caused by my misreading the article “a” as “the”. Yes, the Nazis won an election, but not by a majority. That being said, Geary’s work sustains everything I said. His numbers show the Nazis never enjoyed more than 37% of the vote. It also confirms my contention about the educated populace if you are properly accounting for the different demographics of the day. To wit:

    “Surprisingly, the first electoral breakthroughs enjoyed by the Nazis came in Protestant rural areas, such as Schleswig-Holstein and Lower Saxony, where peasant voters had earlier registered discontent with their traditional representatives from the DNVP (German National People’s Party or Nationalists). In fact this was more than a little ironical, as Nazi propaganda had initially targeted urban workers, and the Nazi agrarian programme developed in 1928 was only in response to the expansion of support in these areas. Subsequently the constituencies with the highest proportion of Nazi voters were in Protestant farming communities; and by 1932 the stream of peasant deserters to Hitler’s party had become a torrent. Many rural labourers, often influenced by the estate managers, voted for the NSDAP in July 1932. Indeed, the scale of agrarian support for the party in that election suggests the Nazis were able not only to win the support of peasants and rural labourers but also that of some large landowners.

    Voters in large urban centres were less susceptible to Nazi electoral propaganda. In July 1932, the NSDAP’s support in the Grosstadte (over 100,000 inhabitants) was 10 per cent lower than the national average. Though there had been a significant increase in support among German workers between 1930 and 1932, this was less marked in the larger cities; and nearly half the working-class newcomers to the party ranks between 1925 and 1932 came from villages of under 5,000 inhabitants. And proportionally few of the working-class storm-troopers of the SA came from the big cities.”

    Most of those people never saw university, B.

  132. bron98 says:


    Germany had a good public school system so I think the people should have known enough to be leery of Hitler.

    The damn Protestants are who scare me especially Presbyterians. I used to be one until the minister told a story about a woman in Texas who took money from the church during a hard time in her life. Once they gave her the money, they thought they owned her. It was some really freaky stuff to hear. I pretty much gave up on organized religion at that point. I figured Jesus wouldnt give a shit unless I pissed all over everyone I met.

    I look at Jesus as a bad ass radical/reactionary, he said fuck the money changers and the Romans. Cant get more free market than that. Jesus was a carpenter, all the carpenters I ever met were tough as nails. I dont think I have ever met a candy ass carpenter. I used to hate those pictures of Jesus in the Church, he looked like a really weak man. Too white too, he looked like a Marvin Milquetoast instead of a radical firebrand.

    Talk about your white privelge, making God white was one thing out of many that is such a turnoff about organized religion. I wonder if the Inuit have polar Jesus? Did he eat whale blubber and drink walrus blood at the last supper? He could certainly walk on water for a good part of the year.

  133. Elaine M. says:

    There Are No War Heroes: A Veteran’s Review Of American Sniper​
    Adrian Bonenberger

    American Sniper will likely be the most controversial and divisive movie of 2015, and it’s mid-January. From concerns over the baldly anti-Muslim social-media rants it has inspired to titular real-life protagonist Chris Kyle’s debatable status as a hero to his notorious unreliability as a non-fiction narrator to the confusing use of a robot doll rather than a human baby, the film has inspired both harsh criticism and lavish praise. It has also smashed box-office records, largely thanks to the conservative-leaning South and Midwest. You either love this movie or you hate it, and by extension director Clint Eastwood, star Bradley Cooper, and especially Kyle himself; there isn’t much room for dialogue between the two positions.

    This reflects a truth that the movie itself seeks to avoid: War is political, and a movie about war is bound to make political pronouncements. When you sit down to enjoy American Sniper, you are committing a political act, and your evaluation of the movie, and Kyle as a person, reflects your political attitudes. But it’s more complicated than the simple equation that progressives dislike it and conservatives enjoy it. Politics notwithstanding, those who’ve seen it tend to describe the experience in religious terms: awe-struck congregations of Americans seeing the Iraq War the way it happened, traveling down the path to PTSD together. Ask around: Be it Texas or Williamsburg, it’s not uncommon to hear of packed theaters with the patrons filing out in reverent silence after the closing credits.

    I’m a U.S. infantry combat veteran of Afghanistan, and I witnessed this phenomenon firsthand. Personally, though, I found the movie to be factually probable, visually and emotionally stimulating, but curiously aimless: like walking in a shallow pool looking for a place to dive and swim, expecting depth and finding none. I found the audience’s reaction both inspiring and depressing. On the one hand, Thank god people are finally responding to the horror of war. On the other hand, This is not quite true.

    Very little actually happens in American Sniper. The spiritual and emotional progress of the characters is limited to basic states of existence (good or bad, alive or dead), and none of them evolve despite numerous encounters with tragedy and misfortune. By the end of the movie, Kyle, his buddies, and their enemies alike are all making the same kinds of choices they were making in the beginning. Even Kyle, who regarded himself as a sheepdog guarding sheep against wolves—in the film, strangely, the sheep are either American citizens or Marines, or both—never sways from that belief. There is little potential reflected or implied in the characters, and no surprises. Shocks, yes—explosions, yes—but plot twists, edification, some hint at the sublime behind the everyday quotidian … no.

    Kyle spends his time overseas trying to kill bad guys, and his time at home trying to bone his wife (mostly the former). Despite a wealth of action, and opportunities to expand or grow, the only thing that changes over time is that the man onscreen begins to express remorse over some of the women and children he killed; he maintains the necessity of killing terrorists that, to his mind, are a direct threat to America, but once back home, he finds it necessary to do something, anything, to heal himself and others like him. Late in the film, this leads to his generously sharing his time and energy with other combat veterans suffering from the grievous injuries they sustained in combat; this seems like progress, and is satisfying to watch and feel.

    But the remorse, at least, may be largely fictional. If the real-life Chris Kyle—or, at least, the Chris Kyle who wrote American Sniper, the best-selling 2012 memoir—is to believed, he ended up rejecting any real responsibility for his choices. In the Western literary tradition (part of our American cultural heritage), heroes are defined in part by the epiphanies they experience. Kyle learns nothing he didn’t already know about war and life during his time onscreen, and that makes him something else. But what? The movie is unwilling to hazard a guess, although the answer may lie in the title.

    Kyle embraces his role as a Navy SEAL sniper, which is central to both the plot and his identity. It’s interesting that the literary and cinematic history of snipers goes unaddressed in the film; up until the 1990s or so, it’s difficult to find them mentioned in valorous or positive terms. (America’s first unequivocal sniper heroes were Randy Shughart and Gary Gordon, the Delta duo who insisted on landing amid hundreds of hostile Somalis during the Battle of Mogadishu, sacrificing themselves to save a wounded comrade during the events portrayed in both the book and the film Black Hawk Down). For much of human history, a person who stayed back from combat and killed the enemy from afar was seen as unscrupulous at best. The original sniper is Paris, who dastardly kills the Greek hero Achilles from long range with a bow and arrow; Michael Moore, always a lightening rod for progressives and conservatives alike, stated the case more strongly in a tweet this past weekend suggesting that snipers were cowards.

  134. “Germany had a good public school system so I think the people should have known enough to be leery of Hitler.” – Bron

    That’s a pretty bold assumption, B. Keep in mind the state of both the state and the economy in the interwar period. German schools may be good now but then? Who knows. I kinda doubt it. Also consider the general culture of the period. Most countries still had huge agrarian segments of their population that lived in relative isolation compared to “city folk”. I would imagine (although I’ve seen no statistics on the matter) that the rural divide in the elections had a corresponding “lack of access to schools/early out to work the farms” effect going on. Those with access to schools and a bent toward higher education probably were concentrated in the urban areas.

    “I look at Jesus as a bad ass radical/reactionary, he said fuck the money changers and the Romans. Cant get more free market than that.”

    Free market? Wow. You really missed the point of that episode within the context of the rest of the teachings likely attributable to Jesus. Radical, without doubt. Reactionary, probably. But perhaps you missed the parable of the rich fool in Luke 12:13-21 (emphasis added):

    13 Someone in the crowd said to him, “Teacher, tell my brother to divide the inheritance with me.”

    14 Jesus replied, “Man, who appointed me a judge or an arbiter between you?”

    15 Then he said to them, “Watch out! Be on your guard against all kinds of greed; life does not consist in an abundance of possessions.”

    16 And he told them this parable: “The ground of a certain rich man yielded an abundant harvest.

    17 He thought to himself, ‘What shall I do? I have no place to store my crops.’

    18 “Then he said, ‘This is what I’ll do. I will tear down my barns and build bigger ones, and there I will store my surplus grain.

    19 And I’ll say to myself, “You have plenty of grain laid up for many years. Take life easy; eat, drink and be merry.”’

    20 “But God said to him, ‘You fool! This very night your life will be demanded from you. Then who will get what you have prepared for yourself?’

    21 “This is how it will be with whoever stores up things for themselves but is not rich toward God.”

    Now whether this is a parable directly from the mouth of a historical Jesus or simple a lesson created by a posthumous author within the traditions of the time 80-100 years after Jesus’ death, that doesn’t square with the whole “greed is good” ethos behind your particular brand of free markets, B.

  135. Mike Spindell says:


    Posting the article by combat veteran Boneburger was quite on point. When he refers to the sense that in the movie Kyle fails to reach an epiphany based on his experiences, Bonenburger exposes the failure of Eastwood and the scriptwriter to give depth to the movie and actually create in effect a classic “hero’s journey”, in Western mythological terms. The “hero” formuls is briely the story of a naive person who is put through a variety of severe, life threatening trials and by dint of their fortitude/courage/intelligence come through them rebron a wiser individual. This is a tradition that is at least 4,000 years old going back to the tale of “Gilgamesh”. Now this is a distinction that most moviegoers will never make because it is not something generally taught in most educational curriculum. It is, however, a dividing line between hagiography and true hero creation in story telling. The throngs coming away from Eastwood’s movie will deem Kyle a hero. This is the crux of the dishonesty of this movie, which is more clearly on display in the book Kyle wrote which inspired the film. In his book Kyle goes through the horrors of war having the breathing room to make judgments on his targets. In the book there is no regret about who he’s killed because all thses savages deserve it. As was shown above, Kyle even made up false incidents in non-combat situations to reinforce his “bravery”, hence his status of being a “hero”. The Jesse Ventura barfight, for instance, was shown to be the lies of a braggart.

    Clint Eastwood, a gifted filmmaker was either knowingly, or unknowingly dishonest, in turning Kyle’ s story into a myth of heroism, without adhering to the standards of heroism. This makes “American Sniper” into a creatively excellent propaganda piece of superficial artistry. Most moviegoers, however, will miss that point.

    • randyjet says:

      Mike, I am most struck by the bigotry of many on the left who make stupid comments such as if you liked this film you are a rightwing thug etc.. The criticism I have seen is rife with such stupidity and has to ignore the facts of much of the film.

      Kyle does change in this film and is torn between his love of his job and comrades who depend on him and his skills, and the needs of his family. I would agree that had Kyle simply remained in the military, there would have been no learning or changing of his world view. That he gave up his job which he loved to do his duty to his family shows growth. He does this on his own volition since his wife did not give him an ultimatum, get out or I leave. He not only gets out, but comes to realize the truth of his wife’s observation that he has become a different man than what he was when they got married. He also recognizes the effects of combat on himself and his family. I think that is a great part of him and the film. Then he goes on to be concerned about his fellow combat vets and tries to help them in coming back to civilian life. That is something the original SEAL Kyle would never have thought of doing.

      It is absurd to think that there is no change since he does not come out as an anti-war hero. That is simply asking way too much and would not be believed. Given his background and environment, he has no opportunity to develop such views. Too bad some folks missed the definition of savages in the book and the movie. You will note that Kyle is restrained by rules of engagement, but the people he is killing have NO such rules. Killing kids, whole families, non-combatants is the RULE on their side. So what do you think of them vs Kyle? The film was not designed to be an exposition of the whole Iraq war, just a grunts eye view of it. The only valid question is does it depict the war realistically and does it show the essence of Kyle? I think it does. To ask Kyle to have regrets about his kills is absurd since those he shot were actively engaged in killing US and allied Iraqis. He did not engage in wholesale slaughter as the Blackwater mercs did. For most of those who did not like the film, they defend the savages who think that killing civilians and whole families is good as long as it is against US forces. It is this knee jerk reaction which I find offensive.

      As for calling snipers cowards, it is outrageous that it comes from a pacifist like Moore who has zero military qualifications. You have to overlook the wounds of Kyle, and his comrades to say something that stupid. In fact, in most wars snipers have a FAR HIGHER casualty rate because they are out by themselves and away from their own troops who could provide cover and protection. Of course, part of the hazards of being a sniper is that you usually don’t get to surrender if caught since regular troops hate them more than anything.

  136. Elaine M. says:


    Here’s another interesting article from an Iraq war vet:

    I Served in Iraq, and American Sniper Gets It Right. But It’s Still Not the War Film We Need.
    By Brian Turner

    I get what American Sniper is trying to do. I really do. Clint Eastwood’s film is attempting to convey the grit, the determination, the pure endurance of seeing a belief through to its end. I served alongside a few guys like Bradley Cooper’s Chris Kyle in Iraq, guys whom I considered true believers — soldiers who operated in a world that was cut-and-dried, one filled with terrorists and violent extremists and foreign fighters and jihadists armed with RPGs, 9/11 as Exhibit A for why the trigger needed to be pulled. I’ve kicked in doors and taken part in the hunt for some of those same enemies. I was there, and I remember the signature of an Iraqi sniper working in our sector as he adjusted his sight picture — wounding one soldier at a time until he started killing and continued on killing after I’d completed my deployment and headed home. I’ve run for cover when the mortars came down, and I know, deep in my body, deeper than language, what it’s like to be afraid for my life, and yet I did my best to remain professional and true to the guys to my left and right as we saw the moment through to its conclusion.

    I remember seeing key chains displayed at a vendor’s booth in a market north of Baghdad — Osama bin Laden’s photograph on one side, smiling, the Twin Towers burning on the reverse side. It pissed me off, holding it in my hands, knowing that merchants only stock what sells. The mathematics of certain moments sometimes have a crystallizing quality to them. When one of the children we often joked with threw a grenade into the vacant building we used as an observation post, a building we’d just handed off to the Second Platoon, it was a hard lesson in the reality of war, one that steeled us away from placing any amount of trust in a single soul during our year in-country. There’s a scene — scenes, actually — in American Sniper where Chris Kyle struggles with the decision to shoot a child. Those scenes dredged up memories of Mosul and Baghdad, where I once heard the words You are authorized to shoot children come crackling over the radio. I also remember watching soldiers in my own platoon lob plastic water bottles filled with their own urine at village children who would run to us as we drove by — thirsty children who motioned with their thumbs to their mouths in a gesture pleading for water. There is truth in American Sniper, whether you think the film is crass jingoism or a portrait of a hero.

    The film made me remember something else, too: the oft-repeated phrase We should just drop a nuke and turn this whole goddamn place into a glass fucking parking lot. This was an enlargement of what I’d regularly heard prior to deploying from Ft. Lewis, Washington: I’m going to go over there and shoot somebody in the face. And so, what started as an erasure of the signature of one’s identity, their face, evolved into the complete erasure of a civilization. But the thing is, I don’t think there was any clue about what was actually being erased in the first place. And in that cluelessness lays the problem with American Sniper…

    The biggest problem I have with American Sniper is also a problem I have with myself. It’s a problem I sometimes find in my own work, and it’s an American problem: We don’t see, or even try to see, actual Iraqi people. We lack the empathy necessary to see them as fully human. In American Sniper, Iraqi men, women, and children are known and defined only in relation to combat and the potential threat they pose. Their bodies are the site and source of violence. In both the film and our collective imagination, their humanity is reduced in ways that, ultimately, define our own narrow humanity. In American Sniper, Iraqis are called “savages,” and the “streets are crawling” with them. Eastwood and his screenwriter Jason Hall give Iraqis no memorable lines. Their interior lives are a blank canvas, with no access points to let us in. I get why that is: If Iraqis are seen in any other light, if their humanity is recognized, then the construct of our imagination, the ride-off-into-the-sunset-on-a-white-horse story we tell ourselves to push forward, falls apart.

  137. Mike Spindell says:


    A fitting companion to the other veteran’s thought and coser to the heroic definition. A man who faced his own mortality, lived through it and gained an epiphany that has changed him. Without the lesson that armed violence is rarely a black and white issue and that those you attack have lives that have meaning as well, then one is a savage. Most stories of war by those with actusl combat experience are stories of dread rather than satisfaction.

  138. Elaine M. says:


    Have any of those you consider to be “on the left” on this blog called those who said they liked the move “America Sniper” right-wing thugs? I wrote that both my daughter and son-in-law liked the movie. I certainly don’t consider them to be right-wing thugs.

    Check out the comments that some crazy right-wingers made about some people who had criticized the movie. There are fringe characters on both sides of the political spectrum.

  139. swarthmoremom says:

    http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2014/dec/24/american-sniper-real-life-movies-hollywood “These films have the potential to distort how the United States views its own history and its troops. The everyday stories of war are background noise. We rarely see intel soldiers piecing together insurgent networks, or low-ranking officers meting out local grievances in rural Afghanistan.

    But Hollywood has found its formula, and it is zero-sum. For every film or bestseller or PlayStation blockbuster about that tiny minority of commandos, the public misses another shot at the larger experience of soldiering in Iraq and Afghanistan. People under 40 no longer ask what war is like; they ask if it’s like Call of Duty.

    The conservative fervor over Benghazi and its various conspiracies carried a rarely discussed thread: the mistaken belief that special-ops can do anything, at any time, to save or kill anyone. But real life is not like the movies, and sometimes help is too far away, as in the case of the late Ambassador Chris Stevens, or hostages are killed before they can be rescued, as we saw in Yemen this month. To conceive of a force as infallible or mythical, then, is to create a too-perfect solution to every problem, from Isis to hostage-takers the world over. “

  140. blouise says:

    I wonder if we’re going to experience a rash of sniper crazies trying to emulate their latest cinema hero, Chris Kyle.

  141. Elaine M. says:

    ‘Getting aid past US snipers is impossible’
    Jo Wilding, 29, is a human rights campaigner and trainee lawyer from Bristol. She and two other foreign nationals have been inside Falluja for the past week, providing medical and humanitarian aid
    April 16, 2004

    Everybody in Falluja has lost someone. There is not a person here who doesn’t have a close friend or relative who has been killed, and a lot of them have lost several. We are hearing that the death toll is around 880 civilians, and that within the first few days 86 children were killed.

    People have been under bombardment for the last eight days. A lot of people are trapped in their houses still – despite the ceasefire – without food, without water and terrified to leave. Food and medical aid is now arriving but the problem is getting the aid around the city. A lot of it is delivered to the mosque, but then getting it to the hospitals, past the American snipers, is proving to be impossible.

    The main hospital apparently has been destroyed by bombing and the second largest is covered by US snipers – the Iraqis call it sniper alley. So Iraqi people are not able to get to and from the hospitals. I was working from a private clinic that had been turned into a hospital, and there was also one other improvised hospital in a car garage.

    Nobody could give us a figure for injuries but there was an enormous stream of people going to this clinic, this makeshift facility. It comes in bursts. There is a lull in fighting and then more people start coming into the clinic. We saw two kids arriving with their grandmother, they had all been wounded by gunfire, they said by American snipers, while they were trying to leave their house to flee to Baghdad.

    An elderly woman with a wound to the head was still carrying the white flag she had been holding when she was shot. They were all saying it was American snipers shooting – and we know that the US is using armed marines on rooftops to hold the parts of city they are controlling.

    The times I have been shot at – once in an ambulance and once on foot trying to deliver medical supplies – it was US snipers in both cases. It is so unacceptable to stop medical aid getting through. They could have just asked to search us.

  142. blouise says:

    Have any of those you consider to be “on the left” on this blog called those who said they liked the move “America Sniper” right-wing thugs? – Elaine

    Doesn’t matter if anyone did or not, demonizing the opposition is an important element of propaganda and needed as a justification for righteous indignation. If they haven’t called you a right-wing thug, assume they think you are and call them on it.

    “A llot of people, myself included, called the enemy ‘savages.’ I only wish I had killed more. Not for bragging rights, but because I believe the world is a better place without savages out there taking American lives.” – Chris Kyle

    And Kyle’s got historic support:

    “If the savage resists, civilization, with the Ten Commandments in one hand and the sword in the other, demands his immediate execution.”— President Andrew Johnson, Message to Congress, 1867 concerning the American Indian

    No thuggery here.

  143. Elaine M. says:


    Let’s face it the American Indians were uncivilized savages who knew nothing of the Bible or the Ten Commandments…AND they had valuable land that the white man wanted. Best to get out the swords and conquer the damn heathens!!!!! Manifest Destiny…or bust!

  144. rog says:

    The left wing haters who called Viet Nam veterans “baby killers” and spit on them are now in their 60’s. Got a few here. They now have new targets. They’re not happy unless they are hatin’ on veterans. I am one of those veterans and you people sicken me.

    • randyjet says:

      rog, I too am a Vietnam era veteran who was very active in the anti-war movement in the USAF and when I got out. I agree that there are crazies here who hate any veteran and can only think of vets as war criminals. The fact is that I fought against those crazies in the anti-war movement, and the movement as a whole welcomed veterans and GIs and in fact, they LED the marches and demonstrations. I travelled in uniform many times, and I never had any bad experience because of my uniform from even anti-war activists. I can tell you that if any person spit on me, they would be in for a fight, so I seriously doubt any such thing took place.

      My main point against the critics of the film is that they see no difference between Kyle and the people he killed. He had rules of engagement which he observed, and the people he killed were ACTIVE combatants. The savages as he called them had NO rules at all, and indeed were the REAL baby killers. They forget the scenes where a father and his child were murdered in cold blood by the savages. Then we have the example of ISIS now which is even more extreme. It is like equating the SS with the US forces. They are NOT even close to being the same and it is simple slander and libel to do so. All such comparisons do is brand such people as being unhinged mentally to the general public.

      I also have to take great issue with those who condemn the drone strikes. It is like condemning the 8th Air Force in WWII for bombing a gathering for Hitler and killing a number of civilians in the process. Sorry, but if you live with, help, and support Hitler or active combatants, you cannot cry about killing those civilians. who are also there. It is like putting an AA gun on top of a hospital and then crying about a plane bombing that hospital. GET REAL!

      I was opposed to Bush and the war of choice he waged in Iraq. The fact is that the continuing war in Iraq is not the fault of the US, but of the old hatred between Sunni, and Shia Moslems. All we did was to get rid of one Sunni dictator for a Shia dictatorship. That is not a big improvement as we can see. The US is NOT the main cause of evil in the world or in Iraq. The rest of the world is even more evil and brutal than anything the US has or could do.

  145. blouise says:

    Manifest Destiny beyond American shores, not for land acquisition but to spread American democracy … it’s our duty and all those Iraqi savages …. well, go see the movie and Eastwood will show you.

  146. bron98 says:


    have you seen some of the videos put out by ISIS? They like to kill, they are savages.

  147. blouise says:


    Sure they are … especially the ones who can’t walk yet. What’s the old saying? Nits grow into lice? There ya go … Manifest away! Sarah Palin agrees and who in their right mind would argue with that right-wing intellectual giant?

  148. blouise says:

    In his book, he tells an Army colonel, “I don’t shoot people with Korans. I’d like to, but I don’t.”

    Admirable restraint in a hero.

    (I have his book right here on my Kindle and there’s lots of pithy, heroic quotes I can give you, Bron)

  149. Elaine M. says:


    Was ISIS in Iraq before we started the war? Was Al Qaeda there before the war? Let’s get history straight.

    Are people who performed rectal rehydration on detainees savages? Are people who tortured and killed innocent detainees savages?

  150. bron98 says:

    The Islamic terrorists have been around a long time, well before 9/11.

    Maybe if the Grand Mufti of Jerusalem had not sided with Nazis during WWII, there would be no modern state of Isreal.

    Al Qaeda was operating in multiple countries.

    It doesnt matter what I think, the simple fact is that this is going to get a whole lot worse. You protesting about some waterboarding and rectal rehydration is immaterial at this point. I would rater be rectally rehydrated than have an AK47 shoved up my ass for a lead enema.

    Let me know when you book passage for a vacation in Northern Iraq with the grandchildren.

  151. blouise says:


    I think ISIS in one of it’s earliest incarnations was recognized in 1999.

  152. Elaine M. says:


    Were Isis and Al Qaeda in Iraq at the time we invaded that country?

    We need to evaluate our own actions–torturing detainees, imprisoning people for many years without taking them to trial, drone strikes, etc. Some people–including Jeremy Scahill–have warned that some of the things our country has been doing/has done has helped the terrorists to recruit more people.

  153. Bron,

    “I hate to say this,” said my attorney as we sat down at the Merry-Go-Round Bar on the second balcony, “but this place is getting to me. I think I’m getting the Fear.” – Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas, Hunter S. Thompson

    You’ve finally driven off into Bat Country, B. At 1 in 126,158 compared to 1 in 20,000,000, you have a greater chance of being stuck by lightening than being killed by terrorists. Yes, yes, I know, Black Swan events and statistical outliers, but the fear is really statistically quite irrational.

  154. blouise says:

    Let me know when you book passage for a vacation in Northern Iraq with the grandchildren. – Bron


  155. blouise says:

    My goodness. Is Scahill attacking our heroic drones?!

  156. Elaine M. says:


    My father was a veteran of WWII. I had friends who were killed in Vietnam. I have good friends who are Vietnam veterans. I have never called a veteran a baby killer. Just because people criticize war or the political leaders who send our soldiers to war or the actions of some bad apples in war–doesn’t mean we don’t respect those who serve our country in the military.

  157. “The fact is that the continuing war in Iraq is not the fault of the US, but of the old hatred between Sunni, and Shia Moslems. All we did was to get rid of one Sunni dictator for a Shia dictatorship.” – randyjet


    I saw the film today and while I have some criticisms of it that I’ll expound upon in an upcoming column, I’m going to say upfront I think most of the film’s detractors have missed the mark. As propaganda it isn’t very effective (if at all) and not in the same class of offensive in that respect as “Zero Dark Thirty” was with its blunt revisionist history and blatant jingoism. But as I said, more on that later.

    For now, I am going to take exception to that above statement.

    Actually Saddam ran one of the very few secular governments in the region. That is why he had previously been usefully to the U.S. intelligence community to serve as a bulwark against Iran and as a foil against Saudi Arabia. Politically he was a Baathist, a uniquely Arab form of nationalist socialism (think a kind of Nazi-lite with a different accent). Far from being a devout Sunni, he repressed all religious groups that might have challenged his power from within. This is one of the reasons attacking Iraq was so laughable to anyone who follows foreign policy. In that circle, the notion of AQ operating out of Iraq was ridiculous on its face. They’d have been targeted and killed by the Revolutionary Guard and the Iraqi intelligence services in a heartbeat. He, like so many other dictators, ran a state organized around a cult of personality. There was no power, not even Allah, he would allow to be seen greater than him in Iraq. Although nominally a Sunni, he would have dealt with any Sunni insurgency just as brutally as any other insurgency. Removing him from power – an action of the U.S. – effectively allowed the nascent indigenous religious rivalries to run amok. The state of Iraq today is directly our fault as a nation. We created a power vacuum there and political ecosystems, like everything in nature, abhors a vacuum. Our exercise in “nation building” afterward was a dismal and total failure of that oh so treasured neocon policy. With no stable secular state to replace Saddam, either by design or misadventure, we are at the end of the day responsible for the mess it is today ergo the continuing war there is precisely our fault. Cause. Effect. Consequence.

    I’ve maintained since day one that, yeah, we needed to be in Afghanistan but in an in and out manner that demonstrated that if they ever trained terrorists on their soil again we’d turn their country in to a parking lot. But even the early 9/11 intelligence clearly showed who manned and paid for those attacks and which country should have been held responsible: the Bush family business partner and big dollar Halliburton customer, Saudi Arabia. Iraq didn’t have squat to do with it.

    • randyjet says:

      Gene, I quite agree with most of what you said. My only quibble is with your characterization of Hussein’s regime in that my understanding is that while a secular state, he gave more posts and privileges to the Sunni minority than Shia. He most certainly persecuted Shias who were observant of their faith. He was not too thrilled either about Sunnis who would follow the Saudi model.

      For the amount of money the US has poured into Afghanistan, we could have won that war by giving every family there a brand new home with electricity and in door plumbing. I think that would have been more effective and less costly. As for Saudis and 9/11, while I doubt that the Saudis had a direct role, they sure as hell did nothing to hinder it for domestic political reasons. As long as they still promote and are proud of exporting Wahhbi Islam, we should keep our distance from them and make damn clear why we are doing that. I recall reading that before 9/11 and after the embassy bombings in Africa, the US has a good shot at killing Bin Laden, but the CIA recommended against bombing Bin Laden at the time since a notable Arab leader from Dubai was visiting him on a hunting trip. The CIA did not want to incur the collateral damage that would result. It is too bad they had such concern for Bin Laden’s buddies who we were trying to keep on our side. We all know how effective that has been.

      • ” he gave more posts and privileges to the Sunni minority than Shia.”

        In his case, Randy, I think that was probably more due to coincidence of tribal relations than ecclesiastical devotion. He tended to surround himself both with people from the area he grew up in (Tikrit/Al-Awja) and devoted Baathists as a priority in selection criteria.

        • randyjet says:

          Gene, I agree with your assessment, but since Hussein was from a mostly Sunni area, that is who got the plum jobs, and his relatives and tribe members got the most important posts. Baathism was an attempt at a secular political pan Arab movement, which fell apart because of practical questions of governance.

  158. blouise says:


    Spoil sport. That film created a great propaganda opportunity for the left.

    Ps .. don’t forget to read the book

  159. pete says:

    “think a kind of Nazi-lite with a different accent.”

    Please, Saddam had a much bigger mustache.

  160. pete,

    I’ll have to concede that point. His ‘stache was much more like Bismark’s.

  161. Elaine M. says:

    How the Iraq War Launched the Modern Era of Political BS
    Factual divides over whether Iraq had WMD, and whether Saddam was working with Osama, set the stage for today’s battles over reality.

    In a related study, Northwestern University researcher Monica Prasad and her colleagues found similar behavior among partisan Republican voters in Illinois and North Carolina. Presented with evidence suggesting that there was no link between Saddam Hussein and the 9/11 attacks, these voters tended to counterargue and to double-down on their beliefs, rather than change their minds or admit error.

    So was Iraq a turning point for US political irrationality? It’s certainly not as though there were no titanic political battles prior to the war that involved disputed facts. (Think about embryonic stem cell research, for instance). In the Reagan years, scientists were at loggerheads with an administration over whether space-based missile defense was technologically feasible.

    Yet the degree of factual polarization over Iraq—and the role of partisan media outlets like Fox News in driving it—may have marked the dawn of a new normal. Political polarization has increased in the decade since the invasion. The influence of Fox News has also increased, as the channel’s viewership and revenues have grown since 2002. And disagreements about facts appear to have gotten worse. A 2010 PIPA study found that in the 2010 election, “almost daily” Fox News viewers were “significantly more likely” to believe 9 out of 11 false claims, including the assertions that scientists don’t agree that climate change is happening, that “most economists have estimated” that Obamacare will “worsen the deficit,” and that “most economists estimate” that the 2009 stimulus bill “caused job losses.”

    Meanwhile, in a 2012 survey, Dartmouth political scientist Benjamin Valentino found that almost a decade after the Iraq War, 63 percent of Republicans still believed that Iraq had weapons of mass destruction at the time of the US invasion in 2003. Once Americans become polarized over facts, it seems, the damage is done.

  162. Elaine M. says:

    American Sniper feeds America’s hero complex, and it isn’t the truth about war
    By Alex Horton
    Real life is not like the movies. So why does Hollywood keep trying to make us believe that elite commandos can do anything, and save anyone, all the time?

    Like most people, I could only imagine what war was like before I got there myself. At one point, I was outside of the less than 1% of Americans who served in Iraq or Afghanistan, where a minuscule fraction of that population would see ground or aerial combat. The average person has likely never met a modern combat veteran.

    So as my deployment to Iraq got closer and I imagined what this war would look and feel like, I thought about America’s favorite storytelling medium: the movies. I pictured Baghdad as Black Hawk Down’s Mogadishu, all claustrophobic and high-contrast gun battles with desperate men in dark alleys, and mostly I heard Ride of the Valkyries, that grim killing opus in Apocalypse Now, retrofitted for our urban assaults and nighttime raids.

    But the stories I came back with don’t really look like anything in the new breed of Hollywood war films, where central truths about war have all but vanished, even though they’re mostly based on real life. Now tales of elite troops are reshaping the public perception of war, even though war is still a tragic grind far more complex than any film of this era has shown.

    American Sniper is the latest movie to capitalize on our insatiable hunger for stories about unstoppable commandos. Lone Survivor, the highest grossing war film of this era, portrays Navy Seals so adept at killing the Taliban that it seems their only weakness is mercy on goat-herders. In Zero Dark Thirty and Captain Phillips, Seal teams emerge only at the climax, with the long tail of logistical support from conventional aviation, infantry and intelligence units obscured by the shadow of the elite.

    In American Sniper, Bradley Cooper portrays Chris Kyle, famously credited as the most lethal sniper in US history. Marines and Army infantrymen, who took back Fallujah in brutal house-to-house fighting during Kyle’s deployment in 2004, are relegated to whispers and gawks when “The Legend” scores another kill from a concealed position.

    In one scene, Kyle sheds his gear to go help clear rooms with Marines he feels are not trained well enough for urban warfare. It’s a moment meant to underscore Kyle’s lifelong commitment to protect others, but the ultimate message is that anyone not in Special Forces is sloppy or uncommitted. “Let’s coach ’em up,” he says.

    These films have the potential to distort how the United States views its own history and its troops. The everyday stories of war are background noise. We rarely see intel soldiers piecing together insurgent networks, or low-ranking officers meting out local grievances in rural Afghanistan.

  163. Elaine M. says:

    American Sniper: anti-Muslim threats skyrocket in wake of film’s release
    American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee writes to Bradley Cooper and Clint Eastwood requesting action as threat complaints triple

    American Sniper continues to draw record-breaking audiences as it barrels into its second weekend in wide release, but a group representing Arab-Americans says the rate of anti-Arab and anti-Muslim threats resulting from the Oscar-nominated war film has already tripled.

    Citing what an executive for the group told the Guardian was a “drastic increase” in hate speech on social media, the American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee wrote letters this week to actor Bradley Cooper and director Clint Eastwood to ask them to speak out “in an effort to help reduce the hateful rhetoric”.

  164. blouise says:

    Citing what an executive for the group told the Guardian was a “drastic increase” in hate speech on social media, the American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee wrote letters this week to actor Bradley Cooper and director Clint Eastwood to ask them to speak out “in an effort to help reduce the hateful rhetoric”. … Ah, Hollywood. Stir up the crazies and make some money

    David Dunning and Justin Kruger of Cornell University “The miscalibration of the incompetent stems from an error about the self, whereas the miscalibration of the highly competent stems from an error about others. – Dunning Kruger effect

    Elaine, I’ll see you next month but in the meantime, good luck trying to bring light into the darkness and I leave you with this video from John Cleese

  165. Bob Kauten says:

    “The left wing haters who called Viet Nam veterans “baby killers” and spit on them are now in their 60’s. Got a few here. ”

    OK, “Vietnam veteran,” name one of them left wing haters.
    Name just one, that’s all you gotta do.

  166. rog,

    Personally, I was born in the late 60’s and lost an uncle in Vietnam. I have several friends who carry the scars of that war. Many of those in my generation hated the Vietnam war, sure, but just as many hated the treatment our servicemen and women received upon returning home at the hands of people who should have known better. The moral and ethical onus of war rests with the war mongers – people usually well separated from actual combat and its consequences and not the troops fighting on their behalf (unless said troops “go off the ranch” as mentioned above).

    So what I see is someone spewing rightwing propaganda talking points without reading let alone understanding the comments made in this thread.

    Funny thing about propaganda around these parts. You smell that? It smells like desperation and manipulation any (and many) visitors to this forum are skilled at recognizing and neutralizing and if they aren’t they can acquire those skills easily enough.

    Think twice, speak once, understand first.

    It’ll serve you better.

  167. swarthmoremom says:

    http://www.salon.com/2015/01/25/the_ugly_truth_of_american_sniper_partner/ “American Sniper is a lot of things, and perhaps as Oscar season approaches, Eastwood’s skill as a filmmaker and Bradley Cooper’s talent as an actor will be rewarded. But as America continues to wage war in several Muslim countries and refuses to take a good, hard look at what the Iraq war did, both to our own veterans and to Iraqis, one thing no one can say about the film is that it’s apolitical.”

  168. bron98 says:

    Bill Maher quotes Ike and Ike never saw combat. Ike was an “intellectual” general. Patton should have been Supreme Allied Commander. I imagine he would have loved Chris Kyle.

  169. Mike Spindell says:


    Again your reading of history is colored by pre-judgment that skews your perception. Patton represents someone who was more interested in his personal glory, than in his troops. He was a showoff and braggart, whose macho was his greatest detriment. Eisenhower was the necessary leader for the allies since his political skills enabled him to work with others. Patton riding in the open on his tank with his six shooter on his hip, exhibited the superficial outward signs of bravery which some people mistake as true courage and leadership.

    • randyjet says:

      Mike, While I am not a fan of Patton, he did exhibit real courage and leadership since he got up to the front lines, and personally took charge when things were screwed up. That is good leadership. He was also the things you mentioned. Patton was a great tactician and leader for a limited area. He lacked the broader vision required of the head of SHAEF. That is why our greatest military leader of WWII, Gen Marshall made Ike the Supreme Commander. He knew that having first hand combat command was not a prerequisite for that post. Ike made many unforced errors in my view, as did Patton. Ike had the political, strategic, logistical and diplomatic ability Patton lacked. Ike would have loved Kyle too by the way. In fact, he was the one who allowed Chuck Yeager to stay fighting in Europe when his policy was to send successful escapees back home.

  170. Randy,
    The image of somebody dissing you, either back then or now, made me snort my coffee. But then, ol’ Rog hasn’t actually SEEN you.

    For those who have not met and broken bread with randyjet, he is the same size as the average NBA point guard.

    On a more serious note, I see an awful lot of speculation about Kyle the man, as well as the persona he presented to the world. Then there is the Hollywood version. Hollywood is about making money and selling stuff. That’s it. Nothing else. The only way they can make money and sell stuff is to appeal to emotion and not thought. We see that emotional pull non-stop in the commentaries on TV and blogs, including this one. The troubling thing to me is the self-publicity sought by people like Chris Kyle and Carlos Hathcock. Maybe they did what they said, and maybe they didn’t. I have talked with a number of former snipers. Only a few days ago I had a long talk with a guy whose official MOS was mechanic (63Bravo) on paper. However, he was trained and assigned duties of Scout (19Delta). It was not rocket science to figure out what he did while in-country, but he was reticent when asked if he wanted to talk about it. He would only say the VA gave him a lot of extra assistance when he returned home. Writing a book or telling tales was the furthest thing from what he wanted to do. Having known soldiers, sailors and aviators from every war in the 20th century, very few of them were exactly forthcoming about their duty. Except the rear echelon types. You can’t shut them up.

    And that is all I have to say about that.

  171. Randy,
    I had forgotten about Yeager returning to combat. They wouldn’t let Bob Hoover go back. But then, Hoover had stolen an FW-190 to make his getaway after breaking out of a POW camp.

    • randyjet says:

      Chuck, The only reason Ike let Yeager stay was that the Allied Armies were in France when he got back to England, and the need to keep secret the escape lines from France was a moot point then. Hoover escaped at the very end of the war, so there was not much fighting left. The best escapee story was Sir Douglas Bader who had no legs. When he was shot down on a ground attack run, he was captured and put in a hospital. When he bailed out, his artificial legs were left in his kite and were destroyed. So the Luftwaffe asked the Brits to air drop him a new pair of legs, which they did. Since Bader was considered an invalid, there was no guard on his second floor hospital room. One dark night while awaiting transport to the POW camps, he tied his legs around his neck, and used the drainpipe from the roof to climb down to the ground. He then proceeded to strap his legs on, and hot footed it out of there. He was gone for TWO Weeks, until a traitor in the French underground turned him in. When he got to the POW camp, he was such an escape risk, the Germans sent him to Colditz Castle which was the max security POW location!

      As for the writing of books by combat vets, the best one that I ever read was William Manchester’s book about his WWII as a Marine grunt in the south Pacific where he was engaged in the most bloody campaigns for the Marines in WWII. It is titled Goodbye Darkness and I think that all folks on this site should read that and use it as a yardstick to measure Kyle’s book and to understand Kyle. Warning, I could not put the book down once I started, so plan your time accordingly.

  172. Randy,

    I think Patton lacked the right temperament for Ike’s job as well. He could be a bit . . . heated.

  173. For those looking for a good, but almost forgotten read, try The Day the Century Ended by Francis Irby Gwaltney. He is from Conway, Arkansas, and used to be a regular out at the airport, now named after his friend (and mine), Dennis Cantrell. I lived right across the road from the airport, so I walked over there almost daily, where we all hung around the Coke machine. The book is a mostly autobiographical novel about his wartime experiences in the Pacific. He was a good friend of Norman Mailer, whom he met while in the Army.

    I recall him well. He never talked about the war. He would talk about almost everything else, but became evasive when the subject of combat came up. It was hard to even get him to talk about his book. The Day the Century Ended was made into a movie, Between Heaven and Hell.” I got the distinct impression he did not care for the movie, not liking how Hollywood distorts a story.

    He did have a dry sense of humor. As almost any pilot will tell you, Coke is the semi-official drink of pilots everywhere. Gwaltney wouldn’t drink a Coke, even if somebody offered to buy one from the machine. He said, “I have to be a purist about at least one thing.”

  174. pete says:


    I guess it was either send him to Colditz or collect his legs every night at lights out.

  175. Randy & Pete,
    Hanns Scharff, the interrogator, tried to talk Adolph Galland into letting Bader take a test flight in a Bf-109. Galland wisely turned Scharff down on the request although he granted permission for several other allied pilots. But not Bader.

    I think they wouldn’t let Bob Hoover go back was the fact the FW-190 he hijacked was the Luftwaffe front line fighter with performance closer to the P-51 than any of their other fighters. He was a wanted man.

  176. pete says:

    A 190 shot him down, he had to get one back.

    I recall you posted a video once showing a pilot pouring liquid into a glass during a barrel roll. Was that Bob Hoover?

  177. bron98 says:

    what is the reason you guys dont like the movie American Sniper? It has really struck a chord on the left.

  178. Pete,
    Yes. Bob would pour a glass of tea while rolling his Shrike, all on dead engines with the props feathered.

  179. Mike Spindell says:


    It’s struck a chord on the Left because we know that our two wars were not only stupid, but murderously so and that they have increased terrorism rather than stopping itm This movie paints a simplistic propagandist picture of what went on clebrating as a hero a man who clearly wasn’t a hero.

  180. swarthmoremom says:

    ” American Sniper” lionizes the most despicable aspects of U.S. society—the gun culture, the blind adoration of the military, the belief that we have an innate right as a “Christian” nation to exterminate the “lesser breeds” of the earth, a grotesque hypermasculinity that banishes compassion and pity, a denial of inconvenient facts and historical truth, and a belittling of critical thinking and artistic expression. Many Americans, especially white Americans trapped in a stagnant economy and a dysfunctional political system, yearn for the supposed moral renewal and rigid, militarized control the movie venerates. These passions, if realized, will extinguish what is left of our now-anemic open society. ” http://www.truthdig.com/report/item/killing_ragheads_for_jesus_20150125 From Chris Hedges…….

  181. bron98 says:


    I think the war in Iraq was a fools errand although initially I thought Bush was trying to open up 2 fronts for an assault on Iran, which I consider to be the philosophical parent of Islamic fundamentalism. With Saudi Arabia being the philanthropist of Jihad.

    I see Kyle as the everyman who was caught up in forces beyond his control. Forces which were put in play many years ago. Invading Iraq just stirred a nest of hornets. Islamic terrorism has been around for 40 years and conquering nations has been around since the beginning of Islam.

    I dont see propaganda, I see the story of a man who did what he thought was right. It was the story of an individual soldier from his perspective. How he dealt with a enemy that just doesnt give a shit about life. Islamic fundamentalists are like the honey badger, they just dont give a shit.

    The west didnt cause this, it has been going on periodically since the beginning of Islam.

    You really havent given me the real reason, it wasnt Kyle who sent men into battle, he was in his mid twenties when 9/11 occurred. What about Kyle has struck a chord? Is it fear, loathing? What exactly bothers you about Chris Kyle and why do people on the other side of the aisle love him?

  182. Elaine M. says:


    Thanks for that link. I was out earlier today getting provisions for the coming blizzard–which may drop more than two feet of snow in my neck of the woods.


    Another excerpt for that article by Chris Hedges:

    “I will whup your ass if you turn into a wolf,” he says to his two sons. “We protect our own. If someone tries to fight you, tries to bully your little brother, you have my permission to finish it.”

    There is no shortage of simpletons whose minds are warped by this belief system. We elected one of them, George W. Bush, as president. They populate the armed forces and the Christian right. They watch Fox News and believe it. They have little understanding or curiosity about the world outside their insular communities. They are proud of their ignorance and anti-intellectualism. They prefer drinking beer and watching football to reading a book. And when they get into power—they already control the Congress, the corporate world, most of the media and the war machine—their binary vision of good and evil and their myopic self-adulation cause severe trouble for their country. “American Sniper,” like the big-budget feature films pumped out in Germany during the Nazi era to exalt deformed values of militarism, racial self-glorification and state violence, is a piece of propaganda, a tawdry commercial for the crimes of empire. That it made a record-breaking $105.3 million over the Martin Luther King Jr. holiday long weekend is a symptom of the United States’ dark malaise.

    “The movie never asks the seminal question as to why the people of Iraq are fighting back against us in the very first place,” said Mikey Weinstein, whom I reached by phone in New Mexico. Weinstein, who worked in the Reagan White House and is a former Air Force officer, is the head of the Military Religious Freedom Foundation, which challenges the growing Christian fundamentalism within the U.S. military. “It made me physically ill with its twisted, totally one-sided distortions of wartime combat ethics and justice woven into the fabric of Chris Kyle’s personal and primal justification mantra of ‘God-Country-Family.’ It is nothing less than an odious homage, indeed a literal horrific hagiography to wholesale slaughter.”

    Weinstein noted that the embrace of extreme right-wing Christian chauvinism, or Dominionism, which calls for the creation of a theocratic “Christian” America, is especially acute among elite units such as the SEALs and the Army Special Forces.

  183. bron98 says:

    Swarthmore mom:

    I think Hedges is on the right track. Although I dont think he is right about the people.

    People are tired and want to believe that their sons and daughters died for some purpose.

    The military represents them, it is them, their children, their parents. It has a tradition back to the beginning of our country, I think people are trying to hold on to that thread. It is a life line.

  184. Elaine M. says:

    “American Sniper’s” biggest lie: Clint Eastwood has a delusional Fox News problem
    The insanities and fantasies at the heart of “American Sniper” explain everything about the state of the 2015 GOP

    Let’s start with the delusion. The film draws a direct link between the events of 9/11 and the war in Iraq, forgetting completely that the war in Iraq had nothing whatsoever to do with 9/11. Not one of the attackers that day was in any way connected to Iraq. Thus to connect 9/11 to Iraq is delusional. Not even the Bush administration made that overt a link—at the time they claimed they went to Iraq to keep the Iraqis from using weapons of mass destruction that were never found.

    But that’s not the perceptions of many who watch Fox News. As the Program on International Policy Attitudes (PIPA) at the University of Maryland reported back in 2003: “Those who receive most of their news from Fox News are more likely than average to have misperceptions.” In their poll they found that 80 percent of Fox viewers held at least one of three Iraq-related misperceptions, more than any other news consumers, especially those that consume NPR and PBS.

    The point is that the 9/11-Iraq link is delusional, but it is also a common link in public perceptions of those on the right who watch Fox News and clearly it is one that makes sense to Eastwood and those that think like him.

    The second problem is the culture of violence. While the film tries to show Kyle wrestling at some level with some of his kills, he still very clearly divides the world into categories. As his father puts it in the film, there are wolves (those that want to kill you), sheep and sheep dogs (who have to protect the sheep from the wolves). Not only are there just three categories of life, but these categories are also defined solely by a logic of violence and aggression. In the film, Iraqis are almost all depicted as wolves, even women and children. Kyle’s first two kills are a young boy and his mother. But they posed a threat and thus needed to be killed. As Kyle later explains, he has no remorse over any of his kills, just over the lives he wished he could have protected.

    At no point does the film consider the fact that the war was based on false justifications. At no point does it imagine that those in Iraq might have seen the U.S. soldiers as invaders in their homeland. At no point does it imagine that the violence suffered by our own soldiers could have been avoided if we simply hadn’t started the war to begin with. The logic of war is completely unquestioned, making this the most simplistic war film we have seen nominated for an Oscar in decades.

  185. Elaine M. says:

    Mordant Combat
    The runaway success of a sniper’s gruesome memoir speaks volumes about the wars the US wishes it were in.
    By Jeff Stein

    Kyle’s whole story, in fact, reads like a melancholic country-and-western ballad with its dead-end jobs, bar fights, wandering eyes, and teary reconciliations with a too-forgiving woman. Such misadventures are laced together with a tobacco-dip-and-whiskey patriotism, the kind beloved by Republican cynics and sports-stadium operators everywhere. Along the way, Kyle bashes antiwar protesters, Congress, his bosses, and “pussies” in his various units. And like many of the musical protagonists in the half-heroic country canon, Kyle is by his own account a sorry-ass husband and father, a Peter Pan in camouflage and night goggles.

    Maybe this gun-wielding saga of arrested development explains the runaway popularity of Kyle’s casually brutal memoir. His tale starts in north-central Texas, where his father was a deacon, his mother a Sunday-school teacher. Kyle writes that as a young ranch hand, cowboy, and competitive bronco buster on the rodeo circuit, he “learned the importance of family and traditional values, like patriotism, self-reliance, and watching out for your family and neighbors.”

    In 1999, he enlisted. He concedes he’s no foreign-policy expert, boiling the post-9/11 world down to us and them.

    “I don’t see too much gray,” he writes. “I was raised with, and still believe in, the Christian faith. If I had to order my priorities, they would be God, Country, Family.”

    And weapons. Like many a rural-Texan child, he grew up hunting and fondly remembers his first guns. As a sniper, he’s in love with his tools, lovingly cataloguing them again and again in what gun-loving readers must experience as a kind of vicarious weapons porn.

    On home leave from Iraq, he gets a tattoo of “a crusader cross” on the front of one arm—inadvertently fulfilling Al Qaeda’s principal stereotype of Americans. “I wanted everyone to know I was a Christian. I had it put in red, for blood.” Offhandedly, he adds: “I hated the damn savages I’d been fighting.”

    “Savage, despicable evil. That’s what we were fighting in Iraq,” he writes after describing his first kill, a woman who walked into a street with a grenade in her hand as marines advanced into her village. After a moment’s hesitation, he drops her with a shot.

    “That’s why a lot of people, myself included, called the enemy ‘savages,’” he writes of this scene. “There really was no other way to describe what we encountered there.”

    Well, yes, of course there is. In the first weeks following the air strikes and invasion, many Iraqis, despite their loathing for Saddam Hussein, rose up against the Americans until the insurgency proved hopeless. Later, sullen, disenfranchised, and unemployed Sunnis picked up the fight, and so did nationalistic and pro-Iranian Shiites. Then came Al Qaeda’s ruthless kidnappers and suicide bombers, determined to kill Americans at all costs. Then we paid the Sunnis who had been killing us to kill them…

    Beyond the blasé particulars of Kyle’s he-man approach to stateside life, American Sniper reads like the ultimate armchair warrior’s wish-fulfillment fantasy. It depicts a world where America’s enemies are reliably sinister and evil, and where regular-guy snipers such as Kyle can redeem themselves on a greater historical stage in the time it takes to get off a well-turned rifle shot. It is, in its own way, the same narrative fantasy that launched the Iraq and Afghanistan invasions in the first place. And with Chris Kyle as the battle-hardened guide for readers eager to escape the unsightly reversals and unintended consequences of such overseas ventures, American Sniper provides a kind of alternate history. It banishes much of the bad news from Iraq and Afghanistan (and before that, Somalia, Beirut, and Vietnam) altogether, while making the story of a Robert Bales or a Charles Whitman seem like nothing more than a sad detour into personal tragedy. In the place of the sobering real history of America’s decade-plus invasions abroad, American Sniper provides the simple thrill of victory, displacing the constant agony of defeat—if only for the time it takes for these four hundred self-aggrandizing pages to breeze by.

  186. Elaine M. says:

    Fox radio host: Jesus would thank ‘American sniper’ for sending ‘godless’ Muslims to ‘the lake of fire’

    Fox News contributor and radio host Todd Starnes argued on Monday that Jesus Christ would have been a fan of Clint Eastwood’s latest movie, and would tell snipers “well done” when they sent enemies to the “lake of fire.”

    During his Monday “American Dispatch” YouTube broadcast, Starnes asserted that the movie “American Sniper” was “driving liberals bonkers.”

    According to Starnes, filmmaker Michael Moore was wrong to suggest that Jesus would not “hide on top of a roof and shoot people in the back.”

    “I’m no theologian,” Starnes opined. “But I suspect Jesus would tell that God-fearing, red-blooded American sniper, ‘Well done, thou good and faithful servant for dispatching another Godless jihadist to the lake of fire.’”

  187. Elaine M. says:

    Eastwood’s American Sniper disappears inside its hero’s unconflicted POV — a troubling place to be
    Telescopic Blindness

    American Sniper is a skillful cinematic transcription of Kyle’s story, but with an objectivity that can be eerie and unnerving. Unlike so many other films about battle, which provide some apparent perspective on the part of the filmmaker, Sniper is fully committed to Kyle’s point of view. This results in a war film that is almost aggressively incapable of engaging with the larger picture of “war,” or in this case, the Iraq War, in which Kyle served four successive tours. Considering the sniper’s role — on the rooftop, above the other men, eyes always trained on distant targets through the scope of the rifle — Kyle’s perspective (or lack thereof) makes perfect sense. He has a particular job to do; larger considerations would only complicate his ability to get it done.

    Adopting this narrow focus seems like it would streamline the movie. Yet the result is a strange and complicated viewing experience — never more so than in the scenes observing Kyle away from his rifle. At home in Texas, he has problems negotiating his sense of duty while attempting to have a family life. We are shown moments of struggle between Chris, played by Bradley Cooper, and his devoted wife Taya (Sienna Miller), who pleads with him to stop re-enlisting. In one memorable set piece, a long-distance phone call between husband and wife — she’s called to tell him they’re having a boy — is disrupted by a torrent of enemy fire. In the confusion, he drops the phone without hanging up; Taya, helpless back home, hears the entire firefight, with no way of knowing if Chris survived.

    Although this represents a new formal twist on hoary war-film tropes — the dutiful wife, the pull of domesticity, the opposition between family and country — American Sniper unfurls this scenario as if it had never affected a soldier before. This is partly because for Kyle, it is his own experience and therefore new. But it’s also because the film never expands beyond Kyle’s end-of-rifle myopia — something Cooper communicates with a taciturn conviction that suggests both inner fortitude and a lid clamped precariously on serious demons. When by chance he encounters his younger brother (Kier O’Donnell), who is headed home after his own tour of duty in Iraq, Chris is surprised by what a traumatized shell he is. When a man in Chris’ unit expresses ambivalence about their mission in Iraq and dies later in a raid, Kyle, ever the good soldier, explains to Taya that his comrade was effectively killed by his doubts. Analysis, as they say, is more than paralysis. It’s death.

  188. Elaine M. says:

    Why do critics love American Sniper?
    by Jonathan Cook
    26 JANUARY 2015

    But even if one ignores the movie’s politics and its absolute failure to grasp documented facts about the invasion of Iraq and instead assesses it purely on its technical aspects, it’s a pedestrian affair at most. The romantic scenes, for example, are cliched and poorly written.

    In other words, the only reason audiences could be raving about American Sniper, ensuring it becomes one of the biggest-grossing films in history, is that it closely aligns with the mood of self-pity that currently dominates in the US: the sense that those dark-skinned foreigners we tried to liberate were not only evil but, worse, ungrateful too.

    Matt Tabibi has a good piece in Rolling Stone that sums up my feelings about the film. But one thing he doesn’t address is this: why, if it’s so clearly a mediocre film that soft-soaps the central character, ignores or deceives its audience on the context that brought soldiers like Kyle to Iraq, and has a plot that ought to embarrass a Walt Disney production, do 83% of “top critics” on a review aggregator site like Rotten Tomatoes give it the thumbs up?

    In practice, “top critics” means the 50 or so film reviewers who work for the most prestigious US media outlets. So almost all of the US media’s supposedly finest critical minds are in agreement in lavishing praise on this dud. It is apparently “breath-taking”, “gripping” and “emotionally complex”. Or it is if the only complexity that interests you is whether Kyle gets to save another US soldier from the dark-skinned bad guys before he succumbs to post-traumatic stress disorder.

    Reading the US reviews of American Sniper is a good way to remind ourselves not only of the critical role Hollywood plays in popularising lies about the West’s recent history and in sanitising our crimes, but also of the vital role the mainstream media play in giving these simplistic and duplicitous fables an aura of ethical complexity and intellectual respectability.

  189. Bob Kauten says:

    “People are tired and want to believe that their sons and daughters died for some purpose.
    The military represents them, it is them, their children, their parents. It has a tradition back to the beginning of our country, I think people are trying to hold on to that thread. It is a life line.”

    I agree that the military has a long historical relationship with the U.S.A., reaching back to the founding of the country. James Madison spoke lovingly about the benefits of standing armies:

    “In time of actual war, great discretionary powers are constantly given to the Executive Magistrate. Constant apprehension of War, has the same tendency to render the head too large for the body.
    “A standing military force, with an overgrown Executive will not long be safe companions to liberty. The means of defence agst. foreign danger, have been always the instruments of tyranny at home. Among the Romans it was a standing maxim to excite a war, whenever a revolt was apprehended. Throughout all Europe, the armies kept up under the pretext of defending, have enslaved the people.”
    ~ James Madison, Speech before Constitutional Convention (6/29/1787).

    Actually, in the real world, people are tired of their sons and daughters dying, for any purpose. Particularly, the trumped-up, phony wars that the U.S.A. has been constantly fighting, since WW II.

  190. bron98 says:


    “Among the Romans it was a standing maxim to excite a war, whenever a revolt was apprehended. ”

    Clinton did just that in the Balkans.

    By the way I agree with you.

  191. Bob Kauten says:

    OK. That’s it. Hell has now frozen over.

  192. Elaine M. says:


    Hell AND Massachusetts. Some towns and cities up here have gotten over 30 inches of snow…and the storm isn’t over yet.

  193. bron98 says:


    Why? I cant agree with you? From what I can tell the majority of what I disagree with most of you is about economics. A few other things but the main one is economics. But that is pretty big so I wont be building a camp fire any time soon.

  194. Elaine M. says:


    We can agree…and agree to disagree. I usually disagree with you on economics…but we have found common ground on some issues.

  195. bron98 says:


    We both like Robert Frost? Do you like Kipling?

  196. Elaine M. says:


    I like Robert Frost, Carl Sandburg, Jane Kenyon, Ted Kooser, Maxine Kumin, Paul Zimmer, Mary Oliver…and many other poets. Nobel Laureate Wislawa Szymborska is my favorite. I can’t say Kipling is one of my favorites. Maybe I should reread some of his works.

  197. Elaine M. says:

    Why “American Sniper” Chris Kyle’s defenders are so misguided
    Reflexive rallying behind the Clint Eastwood film and its hero speaks to the darker nature of American patriotism

    “In Kyle’s version of the Iraq War, the parties consisted of Americans, who are good by virtue of being American, and fanatic Muslims whose ‘savage, despicable evil’ led them to want to kill Americans simply because they are Christians,” writes Laura Miller of Salon. Tellingly, Kyle’s book never challenges the Bush administration’s assumption that Iraq was somehow involved in the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, even though no such connection has ever been proved; Kyle even claims that he personally discovered some of the weapons of mass destruction (WMDs) that were brandished as the pretext for our invasion, although all of the confirmed materials found in that country were leftovers from the early 1990s that were already known at the time.

    None of these observations are meant to detract from Kyle’s physical courage and unwavering support for his fellow soldiers. If anything, the fact that a man capable of such heroism could also be so flawed only underscores the complexity of human nature—something that those who insist on Kyle’s beatification studiously ignore. In the same vein, drawing attention to Kyle’s faults is not tantamount to attacking the character of every soldier who fought and/or died in Iraq. Kyle was one man, not a symbol for the entire American military.

    Of course, the reason we are seeing such reflexive rallying behind American Sniper and Kyle’s character is that there are Americans who wish to turn him into such a symbol. “Treating Kyle as a patriot and ignoring any other possibility,” observes Dennis Jett of the New Republic, ”allows Americans to ignore the consequences of invading a country that had no weapons of mass destruction, had nothing to do with 9/11, and had no meaningful ties to Al Qaeda.” Just as important, the canonization of Chris Kyle allows Americans to duck the morally thorny questions involving Kyle’s possible killing of innocent civilians, his dehumanization of both Muslims in general and Iraqis specifically, and his bloodthirsty attitude toward war itself. Because his supporters don’t wish to see these things (or, even worse, secretly condone them), they gloss over the inconvenient details and insist that drawing attention to them is un-American.

    This speaks to an issue even larger than questions about the Iraq War, America’s military presence overseas, or even racism among law enforcement (to refer to the earlier analogy in this article). If America is going to have an intelligent public debate on any political issue, it is essential that its citizens be able to participate without fear of having their motives baselessly attacked. More specifically, if we are to hold our government accountable for its actions, we absolutely must be able to criticize its most powerful institutions—particularly those who use violence, be it the military abroad or the police at home—without being intimidated into silence.

    It’s not un-American to question Chris Kyle and the military operation he worked for. In fact, it might just be the most patriotic thing you can do.

  198. swarthmoremom says:

    http://thehill.com/blogs/in-the-know/231289-texas-governor-declares-chris-kyle-day “Texas Gov. Greg Abbott (R) announced Friday that he was declaring Monday “Chris Kyle Day” to honor the late Navy SEAL who served four tours in Iraq.

    Kyle, who died at a shooting range on Feb. 2, 2013, was credited with the most kills in U.S. military history, and his best-selling autobiography “American Sniper” formed the basis of the recently released blockbuster film.”

  199. Pingback: Henry A. Giroux on “American Sniper” and Hollywood Heroism in the Age of Empire | Flowers For Socrates

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