Friday, December 12, 2008

My Two Soldiers

Blagojevich smalojevich. Barack Obama has had nothing to do with this pay-for-play scandal. Whatever Blago had in mind, it's clear he knew that bleeping Obama was only interested in giving him bleeping appreciation.

And to the US Senate Republicans: come of it! Stop hating on the UAW. The labor union isn't the problem. US auto companies haven't been making cars people want to buy. When I buy a car, I don't even have intentions of buying from the US auto industry. So, if you wanna clear out the ranks of upper-level, executive management, please do. But leave the union alone. Cause the way I see it, you're coming up against to philosophical contradictions. One is that the cost of workers in the North is too high, especially do to healthcare cost. One way to get rid of the healthcare cost burden on employers would be some sort-of "socialized medicine" via national medicaid/medicare for all, some sort-of single payer system. At the very least, we got to get rid of the system we have know: healthcare for profit. Sorry. People's lives shouldn't depend on insurance companies' bottom lines. And some form of "socialized medicine" will help cut costs for American business - and that's important to you, right?

The other contradiction you're up against is this notion of the free-market. The way I've understood it, in a free market, labor is a form of capital. Why are you so willing to help one side of the free market, business, but not the other, labor? In a truly free market, labor is allowed to make the same self-interested decisions that business is allowed to make. So, in the end, quit hating on a system you purport to support.

Now that I've expressed my feelings about that, I'm moving on. The Republicans are idiots. They're being obnoxious to block the American auto bail-out, or rather, bridge loan. And they're being especially obnoxious to demand Obama come clean about any contact and talk he or his staff or any emissary may have had with Blagojevish. I repeat: if we know nothing else, we do know that Blagojevich was angry that Obama wouldn't play game with him. Doesn't that clear Obama? Quit trying to paint him with Illinois corruption and call me when the Cubs win the Series, or the Bulls win the Finals. I have bigger fish to fry.

My cousin and her husband are due to be ship out to Afghanistan in early January. Hence, my title. And, quite frankly, I'm conflicted about the situation. I understand we need to finish the job in Afghanistan's, and I'm pissed that lame-a, er, -duck Bush didn't do so in the beginning. And the latest reports are that Afghans aren't do any better than they were before. For some, especially women, the situation has become worse. Just a few months ago, I watched part of a special about Afghan women setting themselves on fire as acts of rebellion against someone, be it an abusive husband or an abusive mother-in-law. (I don't know whether or not they had access to guns. But I do know that women aren't likely to use guns to commit suicide. And, I suppose, watching "your" woman burn to death at her decision can stick in the craw of the men who claim control of them.) I only watched part of the special because my stomach couldn't take it. Many of these women were unsuccessful at the quick suicide they intended and eventually died slow, painful deaths. They lived long enough to tell their story, so I guess that's something to support. But watching these talking faces with charred skin and lips noses burned off was more than I can take. Don't get me wrong. When it comes to the crime dramas I love so much, I can stomach stuff like that. I know it's fake. But when it's real, it causes not just my stomach to ache, but my heart as well.

So, part of me understands we may need the military to stabilize the situation enough so that, I would hope, we could send in more nonmilitary aid. But I hate that my cousin and her husband's lives are at risk. Now, I must confess, my cousin, who I'll call Lauren, and I aren't that close. I haven't really spoken to her in almost a year. But she's my cousin, and I love her. And I think she was dumb to have joined the army in the first place. I mean. First of all, I don't believe the myth that for this country is all that honorable. I mean, for me, it kinda depends on the war. I don't know. I just don't think America is worth my life. It's kind of hard to explain, so I'll leave it for a later post. Suffice it to say I think dying for America means you've died to maintain a system that cause more harm than good. And, I just can't accept the notion of dying for America in the face of having committed my life to Christ. I and anyone else who professes to be a Christian is supposed to be seeking God's kingdom and righteousness, and I just don't think America represents either one.

Plus, all the military deaths I can think of post-WWII haven't been for "freedom." They've been for oil or just maintaining control of the world. All this hype about winning the Cold War without bloodshed is just that - hype. Hundreds of thousands have died in the "Cold" War between Russia and America. Don't get me wrong, it's a good thing the situation never came to a war of nuclear weapons, but really. Do you really think someone would've turned America into a communist nation against our will? If you do, it's no wonder you think Al Qeada or any other terrorist organization could turn us into a Muslim country against our will. Or that the immigrants from south of the border will suddenly turn us into a Spanish-speaking 3rd world country. You're delusional.

Did I mention I'm actually angry at Lauren for having joined the Army in the first place? That's why I'm a bit conflicted about her and her husband, who I'll call Jamie, being called to Afghanistan. That's a choice they made as much as a mess BushCo. created. Now, from what I understand, the army was a way out for him. But her? She just initially joined the National Guard for the grad school money. It's not like she couldn't have earned scholarships or my aunt and uncle couldn't have chipped in. In fact, another aunt of ours said they would've gone door to door raising money for my cousin to go to school. For generations, our family has supported education, starting with my great-grandfather who opened a school.

And here's what really bothers me. Lauren and Jamie have three children. Three. One child should be two-years-old by now. Another turns three after Christmas. The oldest turns four in February. So, with 12-16 month tours, my cousin and her husband are going to miss the birthdays of their children, and the missing starts right away.

And what happens if Lauren and Jamie die? I know all of my family will do whatever we can to take care of the children. In fact, that's not even anything I personally have to worry about. But it's something the children will have to deal with. One memory I have of the oldest when she wasn't quite one is of her picking up telephones and remote controls and saying into them, "Elno. Doing!" as though she were expecting Lauren on the other end. And I can hear my cousin always answering the phone, "Hello? How you doing?" I'm not sure the children are old enough to understand death. In my mind, I can only imagine how long they'll expect their parents to be on the other side of a ringing phone or opening door.

Then again, what happens if Lauren and Jamie both survive? We know that post-traumatic stress disorder is under-reported and undertreated. Are they going to be the same parents the children remember?

I'm just conflicted about this whole thing.

And to top it off, cause I feel it needs to be, bin Laden has lived to see his nefarious plan come to fruition. At this point, over 4200 American soldiers have died in Iraq alone. That's more than the number of people who died in the 9/11/01 attacks. 540 Americans have died in Afghanistan. I haven't even started on the number of dead, injured, or displaced Iraqi and Afghan civilians. The total is well over 2 million. Closer to 3 million I would venture to guess. And for what? Are we really any safer? Isn't Obama still sending out messages? And last I heard, this whole Gitmo/torture/rendition method has been working against us; and, according to someone who's talked to foreign insurgents in Iraq, there's an untold number of American deaths due to US torture of so-called enemy combatants.

And now, the Mumbai attacks.

What of my cousin? What of her husband? What of their children? What of them and other families like them. Has this venture really been worth it? If you think it has, you're either delusional or evil. Maybe both.

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But Don't Jack My Genuis