Letter from AG at Camp Grant to LL in Ripon, 10/5/1917

Camp Grant, Ill.

Oct. 5, 1917

Miss Lora Lang

Ripon, Wis.

My dear Friend Lora:

I received your letter of the 4th in which you inquire why you have not heard from me. By the tone of your letter I can imagine how you have been feeling because you did not hear from me. I hardly can think up an excuse and in fact I have none, only that my time has been taken up with a lot of new and strange things here. Yes, I said that I would write and that your letters would be welcome, and I will renew that statement, and assure you that it is my intention to answer all letters. Do not feel that you have offended me. No, you could not offend me. Since receiving yours of the 19th of September and up to about 4 days ago I have been feeling rather miserable from the effects of the vaccination, and three inoculations for the prevention of smallpox and typhoid fever. That has had something to do with the delay in not answering your letter. I want you to feel as if you received this letter in due time, and for all this I beg your most humble pardon.

I will now answer your letter of the 19th. You are glad that I can get a position. Since writing you I have received my appointment and am now a non-commissioned officer bearing the name of Mess Sergeant. You seem to be very sympathetic and fear that we do not get enough to eat. Uncle Sam is pretty good to us and feeds us well. As far as I am concerned, I can eat what I wish as the position I hold now puts me at the head of things in the line of eats. I am boss in the kitchen and dining room and I prepare the bill of affairs or menu for the cooks. The cooks are all under me, tho I have a lot to learn from them. Yes, I have to learn to cook. The most important of my duties are in seeing that there is a supply of food on hand. I have 185 men to feed and it takes a lot of food.

Sundays we have a special dinner. Next Sunday we will have chicken and ice cream and cake for dessert. I invite you to Sunday dinner in Battery A. If you were here this evening (I am sitting in the kitchen alone and writing this) we could have a fine feed as Minnie sent me a box filled with cookies and cakes, and say they are good, – the cake also. I am again reminded of the cake deal on the way home from the Dells. Wonder when we can make another trip like that. (?) I think the next trip I take will be a long one and it will be on a boat too, but not on the Wisconsin River. It will be on a big boat and a big pond. There will be no blow outs until we get to Berlin, Germany, and there we will have a blow out at the expense of the Kaiser.

I am getting used to camp life now and do not mind it. However, there are so many things to learn for me in my new position, and I have very little time to think of where I really am. I was down town yesterday afternoon and ordered the ice cream for Sunday, and while there I also took in a show. Camp is about 5 miles from Rockford, and I am about two miles from the edge of camp. So I am about seven miles from town and to get there one must hire a taxi. In a few weeks the street car line will be completed and one can then get to town quicker than now. Taxi is quick enough but there are so many that want to go and the taxis do not go around.

When the boys all get here there will be over 40,000 boys in this camp. A regular good sized city. To give you an idea of how large it is, we’ll say, that it is six miles square, or 24 miles around the outside of camp. There are 32 miles of paved street in camp. It is laid out the same as a city with blocks and streets, electric light and water works, and steam heat in the Barracks. However the plumbing is not finished as yet and just now we have no heat. We could use a little just now, and that is the reason I am sittng at the kitchen table near the range, writing this letter.

I will close for now and trust I may hear from you again, and let me assure you that I shall try to answer sooner next time. I can see by your last letter that my delay has bro’t you disappointment for which I am very sorry. I met your acquaintance last summer and was glad indeed to do so, only I’d liked to have met you sooner. I saw you about 12 years ago.

With best wishes believe me I am

Your Sincere Friend

Albert.

Third of April, Symphony Forgotten

Sit down at the keyboard right here
To reconstruct the lines of April third.
The lines of April third, the lines of April third,
To reconstruct the lines of April third.

It works that way at the piano sometimes.
You think you can’t remember the melody,
Then the notes come back to you,
Your fingers know which keys to touch
You wonder how that melody could stay
In some mysterious place for so long.

Writing is like a melody, it stays inside you.
In a long, rich piece the interplay of thoughts
Resembles a symphony, many instruments at play.
Not like the simple notes of Mary Had a Little Lamb.
Strands of thought weave their own meanings.

Government Goes After Two Activists for Openness

Bradley Manning: A Window Into The American Soul – PaulCraigRoberts.org

Glenn Greenwald, the constitutional attorney, concludes that “the US establishment journalists have enabled the government every step of the way.” The presstitutes hold “themselves out as adversarial watchdogs, but nothing provokes their animosity more than someone who effectively challenges government actions.” Greenwald praises Bradley Manning who “has bestowed the world with multiple vital benefits. But as his court martial finally reaches its conclusion, one likely to result in the imposition of a long prison term, it appears his greatest gift is this window into America’s political soul.” The window into America’s political soul reveals total evil. The US government constitutes Satan’s Chosen People.  Nothing else can be said for those who rule and oppress us.

From earlier:

Let’s look at some similarities between the Dreyfus affair and the Bradley Manning affair. All of you know the basics of these two stories, don’t you? No? We’ll have to go over some similarities and differences in another post!

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Aaron Swartz, Internet Pioneer, Found Dead Amid Prosecutor ‘Bullying’ In Unconventional Case

The federal criminal justice system has another suicide to its name, The feds couldn’t get Julian Assange, but they did have access to Aaron Swartz. If you have any doubt about what the feds will do to someone they regard as a threat, you’ve seen it. Some call the federal prosecutor’s behavior in this case bullying. Others would call it tyranny. The federal government didn’t go after Aaron Swartz because he violated JSTOR’s terms of service. It threatened him with thirty years in jail on thirteen felony counts because he was a troublemaker, and they wanted to stop him for good.

Everyone needs to stand up for underdogs like Bradley Manning and Aaron Swartz. They cannot protect themselves from the government alone. If we don’t stand up for them, we will find that we’re next.

Basic SEO Elements for Bloggers

This article explains how bloggers can help readers find their posts.

Jesus, Born in Bethlehem…

Entry for Jesus in the Republican Dictionary: Charismatic religious leader and son of God; born in Bethlehem in the year 0; beliefs include love, charity, enhanced interrogation, privatized healthcare, elimination of the estate tax, and the right to carry concealed semiautomatic weapons.

Entry for Jesus in the Democratic Dictionary: Charismatic religious leader, good with teachable moments; born in Bethlehem; beliefs include love, charity, multilateral international institutions, subsidized healthcare, paying to Caesar a progressive income tax, and no respect for authority.

Producing Dead Bodies: A Remaining Realm of American Excellence

I took the subtitle of this post from Glenn Greenwald’s October 22 post at Salon.com. Greenwald is at his best here. Everyone in the country ought to read this article and reflect on it.

On May 1, President Obama announced the end of Osama bin Laden’s life. That evening I talked with my son on the phone. He lives in Washington, DC, and mentioned the celebrations in his city that night. He noted the celebrations as troubling, and also noted in passing that many celebrants were students who had some alcohol to assist their energetic cheering in the streets. I took some heart from that, and I suppose from knowing that up here in Boston the response was more temperate.

Then came the Awlaki killing. That assassination represented a breakthrough in our constitutional history – not just a chip but a huge chunk removed from our Constitution. If the government will assassinate an American citizen without due process – a plain violation of the Fifth Amendment – what won’t it do? Which is worse: torture or summary execution? Don’t trouble yourself: both acts count as a crime. They are criminal acts not because the Constitution and international law specifically prohibit them. The Constitution and international law prohibit them because they are criminal acts.

The distinction matters. We may ask, how do we know something is a crime? Then we look at the wording of our laws to determine if a particular act counts. If legal language and precedent leave room for maneuver – they invariably do – you write a long memo to explain why the act you want to commit does not count as a crime. Such legalistic reasoning reverses the relationship between legal and moral thought. You can’t resolve ambiguity in the moral sphere with a legal memo. We do – and ought to – resolve legal ambiguity with moral reasoning. Moral reasoning tells us that civil – not savage – societies cannot permit torture and summary execution. Civil societies use legal frameworks to codify these moral conclusions.

I’ve written a lot about torture, so let’s concentrate on summary executions. To celebrate summary executions is beyond anything we could have imagined before 9/11. After 9/11, I argued that we would have to find new legal frameworks to govern the prosecution of this war. I did not like the idea that every time we captured someone suspected of waging war against us, we would haul the individual back to the United States and inaugurate the same legal process we undertake when an American citizen is charged with a crime. Yet we had little precedent to guide us. Strictures of international law reflect precedents and rules used to govern wars among states. International law had virtually nothing to say about war between a state and a loose network of combatants scattered around the globe. I said that we would have to work with our allies in Europe to fashion new rules for this kind of warfare.

It didn’t happen. We build Guantanamo, Bagram, and Abu Ghraib on our own. We instituted extraordinary rendition, indefinite detention, extra-judicial capture and punishment, enhanced interrogation techniques, exculpatory memos and executive orders, targeted assassinations, secret drone operations, warrantless surveillance, military tribunals, executive findings, and compliance positions for prisoners on our own. We decided that collaboration with our allies would unduly delay and hamper prosecution of the Global War on Terror. So we acted on our own.

As a result, new international rules to accommodate new forms of warfare did not evolve. As a result, we’re compelled to choose between apparently legal but plainly immoral procedures of our national security state, and cumbersome, long procedures embedded in our criminal law. No one cares to argue that we should infuse our domestic criminal courts with prisoners captured in Afghanistan, Pakistan, Yemen and elsewhere. The debate over Guantanamo shows we don’t want them here as prisoners, let alone as defendants in criminal trials. Yet we have no procedures to handle prisoners other than the ones we have seen develop since 9/11. We have not consulted with our allies, launched any proposals, or pursued any public initiatives to determine how to treat individuals captured in the current war.

This determination to develop our own procedures for prosecution of this war – unilaterally and secretively – affects our domestic legal environment, our political culture, and the sanctity of our own Constitution. Consider two instances of warfare, one in September 2001, the second ten years later in September 2011. An emotional, indignant reaction to bin Laden’s attack on 9/11 would have been, “You can’t do that!” Bin Laden replies, “Of course I can. Look, I just did.” That’s your enemy taunting you. An American citizen would rightly utter the same words after Awlaki’s killing in September 2011: “You can’t do that!” Obama responds likewise: “Of course I can. Look, I just did.” In the latter case, the speaker isn’t your enemy taunting you, it’s your own president! Your own president claims he can do whatever he wants.

This presidential claim of authority to assassinate an American citizen isn’t only a general statement of powers the president says he needs to prosecute this kind of war successfully. This claim extends to every American citizen individually: to you, and you, and you. The claim says, “If we the authorities determine that you endanger the state’s survival, we will kill you. If you speak against us, if you advocate the state’s destruction, we will kill you. You have no right to counsel, you have no right to hear the charges against you, nor have you the right to respond to our charges. We will kill you.”

The next time government produces a dead body and expects you to cheer about it, think about that.