Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Lip Service, Not Active Service

("Motivational" poster via Secular Front)

If you believed their advertisements and public statements you'd think that the Republicans- the good ol' any-kid-but-mine, we-never-said-stay-the-course party- is the legislative equivalent of the USO. They support the troops better-er than anyone, by golly, and anyone who says otherwise is a godless atheist communist freedom hating Frenchified Jihadist. In fact just espousing a different political philosophy than the GOP shows that you don't support the troops and are just waiting to straddle a Taliban anti-aircraft gun like a modern day Jane Fonda. And what's the best way to support the troops? Why, support the President, dummy! Its just plain logical: if Bush is the Commander-in-Chief, then he is the chief troop, and therefore supporting him supports all troops, Heck, its the trickle-down economics theory of troop-supporting.

If only supporting the troops came down to who could shout the loudest or wave the biggest flag. Unfortunately, one of the realities of this current series of wars means that "supporting our troops" requires more than shouting, waving, or even more than the genuinely nice folks of the Maine Troop Greeters can muster. Thanks to roadside bombs, land mines, 7.62mm AK-47 rounds with a muzzle velocity of about 700 metres a second, rocket propelled grenades, and (ironically) better protective gear that saves many soldiers who would have died of their wounds in previous wars, "supporting our troops" has taken on a more practical meaning.

"Supporting our troops" means fully funding the Veteran's Administration. It means expanding pay and benefits for active duty personnel and their families. It means paying for the best research into the new kinds of traumatic but survivable wounds inflicted by this asymetric warfare. It means that the military and civillian upper-echelons at the Pentagon need to get out of bed with the contractors (like most recently Haliburton-KBR, again) and into an honest discussion about needs and expenses. Never mind having to hold a yard sale to fund a school while the airforce gets new bombers (to paraphrase the bumper sticker), or even actual military yard sales like this one, how about a day when line infantry units don't have to scrounge equipment and scrap metal to try to protect their vehicles? One B-2 bomber (a sexy bit of kit, by all means, but I think we can all agree that its useless against insurgents) costs $1 billion. That is a hell of a lot of armour plate and kevlar. But cancelling one bomber to by a mess of bullet-proof vests probably frigs with somebody's congressional district and means a shit load of paperwork. Oh well.

Enough angry digressions. The point of this post is to highlight the disparity between words and actions (specifically, votes) of many of those Republican politicians who most loudly insist that they are supporting the troops. Thanks to the websites of both the Iraq & Afghanistan Veterans of America and the Disabled Veterans of America you can see how every Representative and Senator voted on veteran's issues and decide how supportive they were not just of the war, not just of new weapons systems spending, but of returning troops, wounded veterans, and the families of those who paid the highest price. And interestingly, those who shout the loudest about supporting the troops and security are, natch, among the worst-rated for supporting veterans. Lets take a look at a few shockers, shall we?

SENATE MAJORITY LEADER BILL FRIST, (R-TN): IAVA Grade D (and he wants to be president???)

JOHN MCCAIN (R-AZ): IAVA Grade D (Am I really surprised? After all he was tortured himself, and still voted to allow American authorities to torture, so betraying his fellow veterans who lack his personal resources is no big deal to this ol' friend of Charles Keating)

SAXBY CHAMBLISS (R-GA): IAVA Grade D- (Remember him? Chambliss, who avoided Vietnam with a law school deferment and a "bad knee", beat triple amputee Vietnam veteran Max Cleland in 2002 by attacking the combat wounded Democrat's commitment to national defence and "the troops")

So if you are one of those "National Security Democrats" who feel beholden to vote Republican because you believe that it takes bastards to protect us from even bigger bastards ("Oderint dum metuant" as Caligula would have had it) take a second to check out the security and veterans support voting record of your local candidates. You might be surprised by what you find.

1 comment:

Jim said...

McCain irritates me the most, probably because some of the great unwashed view him as a "maverick." After what Bush/Rove did to him in South Carolina during the 2000 primary, I lost all respect--I guess politics reduces even heroic men to groveling sycophants--look at John Kerry. Reduced to having to apologize to a bunch of chicken hawks, who wouldn't know how to hold a gun, let alone survive the rivers of Vietnam--hell, most of them would fill their shorts at the sound of a car backfiring. Kerry is forced to "fall on his sword" just so his fellow "loser" Democrats can gather a few scraps that fall off the fascist (I mean, Republican) table?

See, you got me wound up and it's only 5:45 in the AM.

Great post, BTW.