Wednesday, February 08, 2012

More donor issues




We're now going to turn to veterans issues. And there are real veterans issues. There's health care, there's recovering the fallen and so much more. But there's veterans issues and then there's an attitude of entitlement. Grasp real damn quick that the public only cares for so long. About the time they're bored with the politicians using veterans to wrap themselves in the flag, they're bored with the whole damn issue. When that happens significant ground is lost.

And that's not key to this war, it's true of all wars. And politicians know that, especially White House occupants, which is why veterans of every US war or combat deployment have complained and/or protested their treatment by the government. (Click here for the example of President Herbert Hoover's relationship with veterans.) So how about this group of veterans be a smart group of veterans?

The best way to do that is to grasp that your moment in the spotlight is limited and brief outside the Fourth of July and Veterans Day and to realize that's the way it has always been and always will be. That predates the creation of the United States and goes all the way back to the ancient Greeks. It is not a plot against you. It's the simple reality that you've bought into the empty praise politicians have given you. You are not gods because you served, you're not even heroes because you served. You may have done something heroic while you served and been decorated as a result (or not) but service alone doesn't make you a hero and that reality was grasped by past veterans. What you are is a veteran. As such, you are owed certain things that were promised to you. You're not going to get them all because, pay attention, no group of veterans in this country ever has. Which is why this group needs to be smart.

Paul Reickhoff can't shut up about a parade. Apparently having grown up singing along with every sixties musical Barbra Streisand ever made, Paul loves a parade. And he ridiculously showed up last week in a variety of outlets (here for Huffington Post) with a bad column whining that, after the Superbowl, the Giants or the Patriots would get a parade.

Let me take a moment here to cloud up and rain on Paul's parade: a sports competition produces a winner and a loser. The winners often get parades.

I'm sorry that Paul can't grasp the obvious, there was nothing won in Iraq. Thank goodness so many Americans made it out alive. But there was nothing won in that illegal war. If a parade were to have taken place, the best time would have been after the fall of Baghdad. Had Bush pulled all the troops out of Iraq then and returned them to the US, the spring of 2003 could have seen a parade.

But there's no win in Iraq. And you have to incredibly uninformed as to the rising violence and the political crisis and so much more to not grasp that Iraq can't be seen as a "win." There's no end zone dance for you to do, Paul Reickhoff. (68NamVet has the best reply to Paul.)

Now you can continue to insist upon a national parade and maybe even get one. (NPR's Talk of the Nation offers a bad program on the topic today -- not every veteran is calling for a parade and some are stating that it is not needed.) But don't think you're going to be applauded around the country for that. The country's in a huge recession and while Barack Obama may try to spend 8.3% official unemployment rate as 'good news,' it's anything but. And the American people are suffering and have been suffering and are about to suffer even more because basic groceries are going up which kicks the price of everything up (that's how the cycle of inflation works). And with people barely holding on the idea that the country needs to spend millions for a parade is not going to go over universally well.

It will go a long, long way towards putting most Americans in the attitude of, "What do they want now?" Even more so than in past wars because there wasn't a draft. As those of us who spoke up for war resisters repeatedly know, the attitude is out there: 'There was no draft, you signed up and you were paid for it.' (In fact, I believe that's what Paul Rieckhoff dismissively said about Lt Ehren Watada.) And now veterans are coming back and a small number are making public fools of themselves. There's Paul prepping for the tugboat scene in Funny Girl as he demands his parade. There's also Darcy Kempa who demonstrates that Richard Daley didn't teach style or substance to his underlings. Kempa writes at PolicyMic that Veterans are having a difficult time getting jobs today because of the "ignorance and arrogance among many Americans."

Notice how I used "some" to describe a tiny number of cry babies who've fallen to the floor and are now throwing tantrums whereas Darcy Kempa believes you describe most Americans as 'ignorant and arrogant' and that's the way to get what you want from them. No, you idiot, that's how you piss the general population. If that's how stupid you are, you have nothing to share in public. Every word out of your mouth hurts veterans because no one ever taught you how to speak persuasively and you think you can snarl and hiss like Richard Daley but seem unaware that nepotism explains Richard's rise, not his personality.

Having called "many" Americans ignorant and arrogant, Darcy Kempa (a man, by the way, maybe having a Jane Austen character's first name has left Darcy feeling he has to be overbearing to prove something), wants to further insult the American people: "There is also the arrogance, or overbearing self-importance, that some civilians hold against veterans."


Don't look for Darcy to start a charm school anytime soon and only an idiot at this point would want to take part in any action with Darcy because he is off-putting, he insults the American people and doesn't even have the good form to say it's just "some" or "a small number," he says "many."

When then-Senator Evan Bayh proposed a burn pit registry, we supported it -- check the archives. I still support. But what we noted about when Bayh was championing it was how long it took to get that for victims of Agent Orange. And we pointed out that right now is the best chance for a burn pit registry. That once the wars wind down, the limited attention they and those who served in them receive, dwindles. And it's a lot harder to fight for a registry afterwards. We noted then that health issues need to be covered -- beyond burn pit issues -- and that this needs to be addressed now.

There is no time to waste -- in the limited amount of time that veterans will receive from the public -- to be embracing a bunch of nonsense. Veterans groups need to be talking to their members and figuring out what the most important things are to membership and pressing for those now. Two years from now, people aren't going to care. They will have moved on with their lives and the attitude will be (as it with each group of veterans), "Are they ever going to stop begging?" Politicans count on that attitude. A number are relieved when that attitude sets in among the public. Because then they don't have to do a damn thing.

Paul Reikoff doesn't know a thing. The VFW actually has members who can talk about this at length (and some of them would favor a parade -- if they felt veterans needs and a parade could both take place, that would be their vote, I'm sure). But in three years, Paul's lonely little column's going to run in less outlets. And, at the rate we're going, we may have a new group of veterans in a new group of wars. And especially when that comes, forget about getting your needs met. Senator Richard Burr fights a lonely battle trying repeatedly every year to bring attention to long standing issues and the media really doesn't care. He continues to fight and good for him. But even when Republicans controlled the Senate (Burr is a Republican) his own colleagues couldn't get it together to support him. The Senate Veterans Affairs Committee has done heroic and amazing things during the last nine years. That's chiefly due to members like Burr and leadership at the start of that time from Senator Daniel Akaka and now Senator Patty Murray. But look at the Hire Heroes Act that Murray and the entire Veterans Affairs Committee championed and still it needed a push and a push there to get it through the Senate. And that's while the Iraq War and the Afghanistan War were semi on the public's mind.

This is your fifteen minutes of fame to put it most crudely. You need to be prepared to make the demands you want right now. So if that's academic pursuit, better benefits in terms of retirement (medical or otherwise), medical treatment, etc., this is the time to make them. If a national parade is the most important thing to veterans of the Iraq and Afghanistan Wars, then that's what they should be going for. But before they make that decision, someone needs to explain very clearly that Christmas won't come every year. The nation will be Santa Claus once and only once and then they'll move onto something else. And that's not out of "arrogance" or "hatred" or anything else. That is the human condition and it has been the human condition.

And once the public moves on to other issues, you'll quickly realize how rare a Patty Murray or Richard Burr in the Senate actually is. When there's no more strong applause for politicians using today's veterans to campaign off of, watch how quickly they instead rush to another topic that's currently getting media attention. (And, no, the answer isn't "Elect veterans!" Senator Jim Webb is the reason there is no burn pit registry. He felt it would cost the government to much money to assume responsibility for the illnesses. Just as he publicly attacked VA Secretary Eric Shinseki for expanding the number of people recognized as suffering from Agent Orange.)

Across the country, teachers are suffering, schools are being closed down. If you really think this is the climate to insist on a national parade, go for it. But make sure you realize that the next request veterans attempt to make as a unified group may be the one that Americans respond to with a sigh and, "Didn't we just give them a parade? What more do they want?"

and i know what this means
me and jesus a few years back
used to hang
and he said "it's your choice babe
just remember
i don't think you'll be back
in 3 days time so you choose well"
-- "Me and a Gun," written by Tori Amos, first appears on her Little Earthquakes

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