This post is getting a bit stale because I started it and then set it aside for a while. I'm going to quickly wrap it up and then come back to it later as time allows...
Every once and a while, I get really discouraged by the state of our press and their willingness to simple repeat without analysis what politicians say rather than report on whether or not what they say makes sense.
There was the absolute debacle starting yesterday of headlines talking about bring troops 70000-80000 troops home which during a time when we have between 120-140,000 people in Iraq seems directly designed to suggest to the casual newspaper reader (the one's that skip to the weather, the comics, and/or the sports section) that hey that Iraq war is going pretty well and generally that the president is helping bring our men and women in uniform home. Indeed, the headline on the Washington Post article seemed like it was written by the Bush Administration. "Bush realignment brings 70,000 troops back home"
Well, of course, 1) It's not happening now as suggested by brings. 2) It wasn't going to happen anytime soon - it's over a 10 year period. 3) Of course, the odds are good that they're not actually coming home but are instead going to be deployed elsewhere and given the state of things, it's probably going to be MUCH more difficult duty - nothing like coming home and, best of all, 4) the President, Vice President, and any Republican flack that could throw themselves within earshot of a microphone had just spent a couple of weeks criticizing Kerry's plan to ACTUALLY bring troops HOME from COMBAT by getting the international community to chip in a bit more (that is, to bring some of our boys home without reducing troop presence).
Today [August 18], I saw an AP headline which read to wit Bush Vows Push for More Military Benefits.
I think a nearly blew a gasket - first, the benefits were meager - we should be rolling out major benefit packages and pay increases (not to mention better equipping our guard and reserves) because what they've been asked to do for all of us has multiplied dramatically. They've lost income - some have lost homes - they're children have lost years of time with their parents - and we're going to offer more education benefits. That should be the icing on the cake - it's not the cake. I'm talking pay increases, combat pay increases, pay differential benefits, 0% interest loans while on active duty (it could be patterned after student loans almost seamlessly), comprehensive health benefits for self and dependents, full reimbursal for any equipment purchased out of pocket, etc., etc., etc. To use a conservative term, this is an unfunded mandate of the worst kind because the mandate falls on our most noble men and women and their families and communities rather than on states or broadly on us all.
But the word that really struck me was "more". More? More?!?! ^&$%*^&($ More?
This administration has been incredibly unkind to the military and veterans's of all stripes. They've tried to reduce pay and benefits, freeze increases, have stiffed the guard and reserves on funding and supplies while transferring millions to corpororations to provide services (e.g., guarding bases) at much higher rates of compensation then we paid the good men and women who were serving in those roles before being called to serve.
The life and livelihood of a very good friend of mine is on the line because of a decade's worth of wet dreams of a few chickenhawks view of Iraq which has turned out to be completely false. That very few Republicans have had the courage to confront this is to their everlasting shame.