Dodging the draft.
Not all of us, Dave.
The true draft dodger was simply afraid. Or too self-absorbed to comprehend what "obligation" meant. The number of people whose motivation to resist serving came out of moral courage was quite small, in my opinion. It's ok to be afraid, it makes sense to be afraid sometimes (even Gen. Macarthur noted that "Courage is fear that holds out just a little longer."). What's not ok is to duck out and let the other poor bastards take the risks. What's not ok is to duck out and pretend that the motivation was created by a morally superior position when in fact it was just cowardice. I don't have a problem with people who at the time were acting out of real moral courage and conviction, and I never did. I do have, and always did have, deep problems with cowards who only acted out of fear.
All wars are hard, whether they are just or justifiable or not. Viet Nam wasn't an evil undertaking by the U.S., it wasn't even immoral. It was ill-advised, it may even have been none of our business, but the South Vietnamese were fighting for their freedom and the North Vietnamese were the aggressors, not the U.S. Viet Nam was Korea Part 2. It is what would have happened to the Kuwaitis when Saddam Hussein invaded them, had we not stopped him. It bothers me no end that people apparently still do not understand that. If someone thinks that other forms of government, particularly Communism as practiced in Cuba, China, and Viet Nam, are "ok" or that there is no difference in life under other systems, then that person simply does not comprehend how lucky they are to be living in the U.S. In Viet Nam, we lost to ourselves, and in many respects we have not come to terms with that yet.
Even George Bush served. He did not "dodge the draft" in the sense of evading service altogether. He put on a uniform. He took an oath. I believe he would have done his job if he had been sent to combat flying. True, he didn't see combat, and true, he seems to have joined the Guard in order to reduce the possibility of seeing combat, but he did actually serve. The distinctions are only in degree. I joined the Navy in 1964, and stayed on active duty until 1978. I served in a destroyer escort that did Market Time Patrol and gunfire support, among other things (including support for the Swift boats). We were in less danger from hostile fire, including counter-battery fire when we did close-in support missions, than we were from our own old ship's machinery and from the sea itself. I served in a carrier on Yankee Station as an assistant to the Operations officer. Again, while our pilots were in danger every day from hostile fire, most of the 5000 men on the carrier were in more peril from the same dangers that face a ship's crew in war or peace - equipment failures, fire, accidents. John Kerry actually asked to go in harm's way, and when he came back, he did what a citizen with his experience should do -- he called for an accounting by his government and by the military. There is nothing wrong with what George Bush did, with what I did, or with what John Kerry did (although I admit to being mad as hell at Kerry at the time -- 30 years of reflection and maturity have helped me get over it), but the degrees to which we served were certainly different.
Which brings me to the point of this rant. In truth, none of this Viet Nam stuff has a damned thing to do with the real issues in this Presidential race. If it's "character," I maintain that Bush and Kerry both have passed the test, with any difference being just in degree, not in quality. I think the media stirs these Viet Nam service questions up and keeps them alive. It's part of the culture of negativity the media have created and from which they draw their profits. Who controls what you see on the news? Given three or five or a dozen angles to cover, why do they choose the one that they do? Shame on us for letting them sucker us into watching, let alone giving a damn what the "news analysts" have to say.
We have serious problems in this country, and we're about to make a decision to put someone in charge of fixing them. We need to pay attention to:
1. How do we finish what we started in Iraq, without wrecking our economy further to do it, and without incurring massive financial obligations to rebuild Iraq that will last for the next 50 or 100 years?
2. What do we do about the real terrorists and the Islamists who would like to reduce us to poverty and subjugation? (And if someone thinks that's not their aim, that person just has not been listening to what they have to say.)
3. How do we restore our relationships with the rest of the world -
a. to help with 1. and 2.;
b. to deal with coming problems (e.g., North Korea, which is about to start selling nukes to the world. Nort Korea will make Osama Bin Ladin look like a mere nuisance);
c. to get our economy back in working order.
4. How do we handle our internal problems:
a. erosion of our privacy and our essential rights;
b. economy, and issues of intellectual property, ethics, and accountability that impact it;
I'm not hearing much about these issues, yet they are the factors I must base my vote on. What I get from George Bush is slogans delivered in that annoying high-pitched nasal whine of his. What I get from Kerry is combative rhetoric that just panders to people's dislike of George Bush. I wonder whether either of them is capable of the leadership it will take to resolve the things that (it seems to me) are most important. What a mess.
Coverage of Democratic Party Campaigns.
Taegan Goddard's Political Wire offers complete coverage and in-depth press links for all of the Democratic campaigns this year, including gubernatorial and congressional races. Keeping up with these is too big a task for me, so this weblog category is going to become an "occasional rants" area. I recommend checking out Taegan. He doesn't seem to have an RSS feed that I can find, so you may have to bookmark his page. Good luck to all of us -- we need it this year.
Bush proposes job training and education programs.
US factories have lost 2.6 million jobs since George Bush took office in 2001. He proposes job training programs to close the gap. Will it be enough? Don't hold your breath. Here in Dallas, there are long lines at job fairs. The jobs being offered are for positions that are of far lower value than those that were lost here in the telecom and high-tech sectors over the last three years. And there aren't enough of them. Meanwhile, most of the job creation that is going on seems to be happening in Central America, Asia, and India. We need to turn the corner, but $500 million in training for Macjobs isn't going to cut it.
"President Bush (news - web sites) on Wednesday called for $500 million in new spending on education and job-training programs as he sought to highlight themes from his State of the Union address and tried to lift confidence in his handling of the economy."
via [Yahoo News]
Testing: The Standardization of Ignorance. The New Educational Eugenics in George Bush's State of the Union" href="http://www.gregpalast.com/detail.cfm?artid=310&row=0">NO CHILD'S BEHIND LEFT The New Educational Eugenics in George Bush's State of the Union In this biting article Greg Palast is not afraid to jolt our senses... [Inside Learning Web Log]
Politicians will be trying to say that they have improved the employment picture, but the current economic recovery is still "jobless." According to news reports, actual job growth last year was 1000 jobs (!) when we needed job growth on the order of 150,000 or more. The unemployment figures have dropped, but only because 300,000 more workers have given up looking for work. Ever wonder what happens to those people? I hope they vote in November.
And I thought maybe I imagined it ...
Dave Winer in Boston saw the same Meet the Press that we got here in Dallas. I don't know which group I loathe more - pols or press. -- BB
Meet the Press had a particularly clueless segment on blogs. Typical BigPub arrogance. One guy says he has a blog, but his is different -- he posts columns instead of pancake recipes. Oh. Okay. I guess you're smart and we're stupid. Thanks. [Scripting News]
The mainstream Media/Press still don't get it.
Watching NBC's Meet The Press this morning. Table full of pundits spent five minutes discussing weblogs. None of them, including Tim Rosser, get it. One was proud that he has "never blogged and will finish my career without blogging." They still think weblogs are online diaries for adolescents. They still think the weblogs branded with Howard Dean's/Wesley Clark's/George Bush's names are the cutting edge of political weblogs. Oh my.