Just Wondering… (for May 26, 2008)

• …how President Bush and Senator McCain can in good conscience honor the memory of those who have made the ultimate sacrifice in defense of this nation (including the 4,082 American service members killed in the Iraq War) and yet continue to oppose a new GI Bill that has strong bipartisan support.

• …why the United States maintains the unusual practice of allowing the electorate to decide who should dispense justice (“87 percent of all state court judges face elections, and 39 states elect at least some of their judges”), despite concerns that “you’re not going to get fair and impartial judges that way.”

• …what it says about the United States and the policies and priorities of our so-called leaders that we were recently ranked an embarrassing 97th out of 140 nations on the Global Peace Index (edging out Iran and Yemen but falling short of Rwanda, Syria, and China).

• …whether Barack Obama might consider selecting a South American pack animal carrying a large Hostess snack cake as a running mate, just to give Americans the entertaining option of voting for a ticket of Obama Llama Ding Dong in November. (Hey, it’s just a thought.)

5 thoughts on “Just Wondering… (for May 26, 2008)

  1. As far as judges go,we are guaranteed getting politically connected people either way.New York,where I served as a Court Officer from 1971-76 is an example.All the judges,appointed or elected were political.In the elections,a judicial candidate would frequently run on three party slates by prearrangement-so you could vote for x,x,or x.The appointed judges in the lower courts,were all strictly political picks.
    Who exactly determines a country’s place on the Global Peace Index?First I’ve heard of it.

  2. I need to demur on a couple of issues. in this world, not much is at it seems at first reading or, “the devil is in the details.”

    There are details to the avowed “new” GI bills proposed that rewuire attention. The bill approved and which will see a veto was passsed by a parlimentary slip and slide which did no allow debate on the McCain version. With Memorial Day and elections approaching Democrats and Republicans did not want to appear to vote against anything that had money for vets, even though they new it would get a veto–so much for honor and responsibility in the Senate. It was much the same on the absurd farm bill that passed.

    In actuality, the bill is opposed by the military leadership and most careful evaluators of these things. It is an undemocratic bill; is too poorly constructed and has a negative effect on retention rates; and is mostly sexist. The McCain bill is much more carefully constructed. It rewards service: more service, more reward, and has a positive effect on military stability and retention, and military families. The McCain bill is also transferrable to the wife or husband of a service member. If a spouse of a military person wants to enhance his or her skills and education, the McCain bills provides. The McCain bill is by far more positive, more democratic and anti-sexist. I suspect there will be a compromise bill that includes the McCain provisions.

    Finally, I really need to say something about the reference to the 4,000 dead and 35,000 injured in this obnoxious war. We are in it, and there is no rational out other than some sort of stability in the region. War is miserable and losses are horribly painful. I have some awareness of the current struggle and its pain to families and past struggles this nation has confronted.

    Let’s not forget that America sufferred more dead on 9/11 than were killed in the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor–we forget that. During World War II, 29,500 people died EVERY DAY from 1939-1945 and more than 100,000 were injured, EVERY DAY. The critical battle for Okinawa, one battle on one island, cost us more than 10,000 soldiers killed and another 27,000 injured. Korea in two years resulted in some 53,000 American dead and another 250,000 wounded. 56,000 of us died in Viet Nam over 7 years and another 2,000,000 Vietnamese in the South were murdered after we abandoned them. One suggests that the equations of war and peace, action and non-action, the forces that require great powers to act, are not simplistic nor are they without cost. There is a very thin line between order and chaos in this world, always has been, and that thin line is protected by the men and women, mostly our kids, who step forward and serve.

  3. One thing that bothers me about this war is the attempt by the government to “clean up” the images we get,to the point of not wanting photos of flag-draped coffins to get out.Compare this with the coverage of Vietnam-we didn’t get airbrushed news.Down the road from where I was stationed in Vietnam was an Army mortuary-on any given day the bagged bodies we took off transports were “processed” there and put into plain aluminum Alcoa boxes.They were stacked up on the tarmac waiting for the C141’s for the trip home.It was right there in the open-nowadays the government wants to spare the public the sight.That is disrespectful to those who died.They should not come back to us in secret.War is what it is and if we are in one we should know it.
    I supported Afghanistan and opposed Iraq,but now we’re in it to the point that to leave overnight(if that were even physically possible)would probably result in a replay of the Southeast Asian holocaust that started when we left Vietnam in 1975.I have no answer to the situation unlike some young bloggers I read who are much more sure of things.

  4. Another thought-we should follow the lead of Massachusetts and give free tuition to veterans who joined up while residents of RI and served in a combat zone.I got my college degree on the GI Bill in 1973.

  5. Mr. Bernstein raises significant issues. Indeed, Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan and Iran represent very messy situations with no definitive solutions. Secretary Powell was correct when before the war in Iraq, he observed that if you break it you own it. Fortunately Mr. Bush has found his General Grant in General Petraeus, although very late in the day, and the situation has shifted remarkably with the Iraqi govenment crossing those lines between Shiite and Sunni and making internal order and the Iraqi military function so well in Basra and now Sadar City and Mosul. The wild card will be Iran now discreditied as an “alien” intruder. It is a mess, but not quite as messy any longer.

    On the matter of the G.I. bill, indeed there should be a rational answer that meets the needs of the soldiers and their families, as well as the military priorities. Of some interest is the fact that there is an amazing array of educational opportunity for our soldiers even while they are on active duty, that were very limited in the past. They can take on-line college credit courses, can be detailed to graduate school for training, and can upgrade their more technical, military skills even while deployed, all quite independent of the post-military educational opportunities.

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