Friday, October 11, 2013

Do you really...?

Support the troops.

That, for me, is both a statement and a question. The question is not whether to support the troops, but rather in what way should we support the troops. Also, in what way do the troops support us?
It has become rote in this country to qualify any critical statement about the military or military spending with a statement indicating that you support the troops - I do it myself. I guess it's because people don't want to be seen as patriotic or insensitive of young men and women sacrificing their lives for their country. But are they sacrificing needlessly? What exactly are our troops killing and being killed for? Is it really a security issue? Is the colossal expenditure of our national budget that goes to the DOD (not to mention other security-related issues) really worth it? Aren't the soldiers supposed to be supporting the ideals of our country like Democracy, freedom, equality, and rights? But if you think about it, our country doesn't uphold these things.
We have a Congress that is completely inept at working together and a general populace that does give one iota about supporting their fellow countrymen. We as a country are still plagued by racism, sexism, sexual orientationism, agism, regionalism, and probably many other -isms. We love nothing more than slicing our country up by as many demographic factors we can think of, and then doling out opportunity, power, and money to those that are deemed most worthy.
The irony of the military support is a lot of young members of the military come from places and circumstances that the people who support them once they're troops couldn't care less about. They're from poor, rural areas where the lack of opportunity forces them to find something to open up doors for them, and the military is often this option. Also, the people with those stickers on their cars tend to be the very people who support the troops only, but not where those troops came from or the the economic circumstances that drew them to the military in the first place. This is why we see so many young men and women who have completed their military service left in the lurch by these "troop supporters", because now that they're back to being civilians they have nothing to offer - whether it be security or a political statement. Veterans are ignored by these "support the troops" folks. This is very similar to the anti-choice protesters who care so much about the life of an unborn fetus, but once that baby comes into the world they care nothing about refusing assistance for food, medical care, or education. It's all hypocritical, political bull$hit.

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

It's not what you think it is...

This government shutdown is the least surprising thing to happen since Barack Obama took office. It's been inevitable for some time, and to be honest, I'm surprised that it didn't come sooner during one of fights over the debt ceiling. The unfortunate reality is that this is exactly what Republicans - or at least tea party Republicans - have wanted for a long time. Republicans believe that a) the government is too large and b) that the government spends too much money.
Therefore, "starving the beast", as it were, is the only way to create what they would consider substantive policy to limit the size, scope, and spending of the U.S. government. To use an Obama analogy, they want to use a chainsaw to cut the U.S. budget, when a scalpel is necessary.
Sure, the U.S. government spends too much money. Democrats, Republicans, liberals, conservatives, libertarians, etc. all agree with that. But just what the government SHOULD be spending the money on and what it shouldn't is not at all agreed. Conservatives typically believe that we should be cutting any and all social programs; including education, health care, medicare, medicaid, unemployment, etc. Basically those things that support the majority of older and low-income Americans - and don't create profit. While Democrats typically want to cut things like military spending, tax subsidies to wealthy individuals and companies, and raise corporate taxes. These are two different perspectives on the role of government, and to be fair are worthy of a legitimate, healthy debate.
However, the arena for hashing out this debate is not a continuing resolution to pay the government's bills. Especially when Republicans are using it as an excuse to defund the signature legislation of the Obama administration, before it's even been implemented. Republicans don't even want to give it an opportunity to work, even though the American public essentially supported the ACA by re-electing the man whose name has become synonymous with the law.
So by shutting down the government, Republicans have essentially won this round. We can only hope that the American people see what they are trying to do and recognize that Republicans are not attempting to defund Obamacare (the ACA), but instead trying to starve government to the point of ineffectiveness, so that only those essential functions will be taken care of (which for them is military only). There's a good chance Republicans will take the PR hit for this government shutdown, but Americans are so apathetic, misinformed, and myopic, that unfortunately I don't think this government shutdown will have an major electoral impact.