Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Giving Back

I grew up, as anyone who's read more than one of my posts may know, around Madison, Wisconsin. In the 1970s. If you know your recent American history, you know that Madison was a hotbed of anti-Vietnam activity in the 60s and early 70s. Quite a radical student population and even a fairly radicalized general population, too. They elected a young firebrand named Paul Soglin their Mayor in 1972 - who became the first US Mayor to meet with Fidel Castro. I remember my older brothers cheering as the election results came in. Opposite this news, The Wizard of Oz was playing. Fitting, eh? (They kept flipping channels, really pissing me off. Right in the middle of the flying monkey scene, too!)

Anyway, this anti-war sentiment attracted me quite a bit even as I bummed through grade school in surplus army jackets. And while I eventually grew to loathe all the hairy, smelly old hippies clogging up the town - part of what attracted me to the punk scene in Madison was the anti-hippie attitude - that anti-war bias never left me. (I can forgive the hippies now, even tolerate them. They made some decent music and had extraordinary - wonder why? - ideas on graphic design.)

But I never did understand that attitude of some anti-war protesters, to blame the soldiers. I've never thought it as widespread as some do, but it existed. The soldiers then didn't choose to make war in Vietnam, just like our soldiers today didn't choose their war. It was the leaders, the politicians making these choices. And it's the leaders we have to critically examine, castigate, berate, bother and vote out of office if we don't care for their leadership in times of both war and peace.

One of our potential leaders and our current one are currently choosing to deny their responsibility to our serving troops. Neither McCain nor Bush are backing the new and improved GI Bill, which will give these men and women greater opportunities to create the kind of American Dream lives for themselves and their families that they are supposedly fighting to preserve. We did this after World War II (which our current war is often sadly equated with) and the entire country benefited from it. Not as many soldiers are serving now as then, but the obvious benefits to our soldiers have made more than fifty Senators from both parties endorse this bill. But not McCain. And Bush may use that ol' VETO stamp again.

Why? What possible reason has McCain for not endorsing? Evidently he hasn't had time to read the bill yet. No biggie. He'll get around to it someday. After all, if he's elected we've got another 100 years of war in Iraq to look forward too. Plenty of time then.

And Bush? Why, he can't support the bill because it would encourage soldiers to leave the Army and not re-enlist. He'd prefer that they not have any better options in life than perpetual military service. If we are to start making non-Army life look even a little bit better than Army life, there won't be anyone left to fight his wars! Such logic is unimpeachable. Like Bush, evidently.

What can we do? Call, email or write your Senator. Tell him or her your position on the new GI Bill. And maybe give Big John's office a call too and let him know what you think. Don't bother with Bush. He's not taking any calls from the American public. Never has, never will.

Now playing: John Coltrane - Dealin' [Take 2]
via FoxyTunes

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