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Bruce Springsteen says veteran lives have value; conservatives throw a fit

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Yesterday was Veterans Day, a day many of us believe should be used to honor people who have provided military service, particularly those who fought in wars, often at great sacrifice. But apparently the Weekly Standard and various conservatives online prefer to think of it as a day to honor wealthy, powerful men who start unnecessary wars while refusing to serve themselves or by pulling strings to keep their sons out of the wars.

Bruce Springsteen played the Creedence Clearwater Revival song “Fortunate Son” at the Concert for Valor Tuesday night. This is wholly unsurprising, as the song fits quite neatly into Springsteen’s lifelong project of highlighting the lives of ordinary people and protesting the way that the privileged and powerful abuse the ordinary working people that make this country work. For anyone who has been living under a rock since the 60s, “Fortune Son” is a song about how ordinary people who are drafted into service are being exploited by flag-waving, wealthy hypocrites that love starting wars but don’t love so much fighting them. Some modern examples you might be familiar with include George W. Bush and Dick Cheney. It’s such a prominent pattern that it even got a name during the Iraq War: “chickenhawk”.

Here are the lyrics, if you, under-a-rock-person, don’t believe me:

Some folks are born made to wave the flag
Ooh, they’re red, white and blue
And when the band plays “Hail to the Chief”
Oh, they point the cannon at you, Lord

It ain’t me, it ain’t me
I ain’t no Senator’s son
It ain’t me, it ain’t me
I ain’t no fortunate one, no

And:

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Yeah, some folks inherit star spangled eyes
Ooh, they send you down to war, Lord
And when you ask them, “How much should we give?”
Oh, they only answer, more, more, more, oh

It ain’t me, it ain’t me
I ain’t no military son
It ain’t me, it ain’t me
I ain’t no fortunate one

For those who are confused—or shall I say are feigning confusion—about the “military son” line, the way people of good faith interpret it is to say that the sons of generals and other high-ranking officials often had people pull strings for them to get them out of the draft. It is not, by any reasonable measure, a slam on the children of people who serve on the front ranks.

The reason you’d play this song at a veteran’s concert is obvious, as the song is arguing that the lives of soldiers have value and should not be put at risk for the hell of it. But Weekly Standard threw a fit:

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Who would have thought that that Bruce Springsteen, Dave Grohl, and Zac Brown, accomplished musicians all, would be sowell, tone-deaf? But how else to explain their choice of song—Creedence Clearwater’s famously anti-war anthem “Fortunate Son”—at the ostensibly pro-military “Concert for Valor” this evening on the National Mall?

The song, not to put too fine a point on it, is an anti-war screed, taking shots at “the red white and blue.” It was a particularly terrible choice given that Fortunate Son is, moreover, an anti-draft song, and this concert was largely organized to honor those who volunteered to fight in Afghanistan and Iraq.

This is a fairly simple disagreement, it seems. Springsteen, et al, were saying “soldiers have value”.  Weekly Standard is like, “nuh-uh, war is what is valuable”. They engage in relatively little hand-waving to confuse the issue, too, which is kind of fascinating. Didn’t even try to engage the argument that soldier’s lives have meaning and therefore we should not take the decision to go to war lightly. Just a knee-jerk assumption that war is good and should be defended automatically, even at an event honoring people who have firsthand experience of how war is very much not good.

Look, I’m fully aware that a lot of veterans are reasonably uncomfortable accepting that they sacrificed so much for a pointless war that was more about ego-stroking George Bush than it was anything else, and so they, too, defend these wars. It’s human nature to rationalize your experiences and no one wants to feel their suffering was wasted. But that’s what the beauty of art and music is, that it can sometimes break down those defenses and help people engage, on a deeper level, with their experiences. With “Fortunate Son”, it’s simply incorrect to call it an anti-war song. It’s simply making the point that if you think war is so great, then you first, assholes. That has an emotional power that can help break down some of the defense systems and get people to a real discussion about whether or not we should start a bunch of wars for funsies.

Washington Post gathered up a couple of tweets by people complaining about the song being played at “patriotic” events. Again, it’s interesting how the concept of being a “patriot” is tied up in the idea that we should just want some wars, because yea wars! But I would like to offer another definition of a patriot: Someone who believes that her country has value because the people in it have value. Which means that you defend the right of soldiers to live and argue strenuously against going to war unless it is truly necessary. Which is what Springsteen was doing.

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Pandagon

Ch-ch-changes…..

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After many years and many server changes and finally landing here at Raw Story, which has taken very good care of us, it's time to say goodbye to Pandagon. I've been blogging under this banner for ten years, after Jesse Taylor asked me to join. He, in turn, had been running this joint since he was in college. A lot has changed since then. I became a journalist, moved from Austin to New York and learned to play Dungeons & Dragons. Jesse became a lawyer and, just this past weekend, a married man.

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Pandagon

Carly Fiorina defends her lie with a whole bunch of lies

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I do like it when Republican candidates sport a resume full of corporate executive work, because it really shows the public how many fools and idiots coast into that position not on merit but on their bullshitting abilities. Donald Trump, Herman Cain, and now we have Carly Fiorina, who just can't understand why her perceived underlings (voters, journalists) won't scurry away, pretending to accept her bullshit like former employees of hers had to do, lest they lost their jobs.

And so it goes that Fiorina, who could make this entire Planned Parenthood controversy go away by saying something like, "I may have misremembered the video, but I still think abortion is wrong," instead is doubling and tripling down. And every time she does, she lies more and more. She was on Meet the Press and, so enamored of the idea that she is perfect and could never do anything wrong, just went to town with the defensive posturing.

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Pandagon

Marco Rubio has an astoundingly low opinion of women’s intelligence

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At RH Reality Check, I covered this story that I wish was getting more press, about how Marco Rubio goes back and forth between suggesting that women who get abortions are greedy monsters who get pregnant for cash:

I just think you’ve created an industry now … a situation where very much, you’ve created an incentive for people not just to look forward to having more abortions, but being able to sell that fetal tissue for purposes—these centers—for purposes of making a profit off it, as you’ve seen in some of these Planned Parenthood affiliates.

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