Monday, May 30, 2005

Fallen Heroes

Hopefully we're all sparing a few thoughts and prayers for the service people who have given their lives overseas for us, regardless of particular political opinion about the war itself. I believe the vast majority of us are. There have been no major protests since the start of the war; there certainly aren't Vietnam-style confrontations between civilians and soldiers.

(Though there weren't really any then, either; any dirty hippie would have been literally risking his life spitting on a returning soldier. It just didn't happen. Jane Fonda has been spit on more times than any returning US soldier.)

We should also remain vigilant about the schemes our government concocts, and the jingoistic frenzy it whips us into as it serves its purposes. It has to do such things; how else do you talk people into letting their kids sign up to go kill or be killed?

We should also reflect a bit on the sort of people running the government and armed forces, which in turn inform how those organizations and institutions themselves are run. It takes a certain sort of person to be willing to cynically use the stories of Pat Tillman and Jessica Lynch for propaganda purposes -- to lie about how Tillman died and withhold the truth about his friendly-fire demise from his family until after his service, so as not to disrupt their recruitment drive/feelgood moment; to lie and whip up a made-for-TV movie about "rescuing" Lynch from armed killers and rapists, when in fact she was in an unguarded hospital. Of course, showing a commando-style raid through night-vision goggles always amps up the entertainment value, no?

This is an unconscionably ugly use of very personal events, for rather selfish, pernicious purposes. I seriously cannot believe that these acts by the military and civilian authorities have not caused greater outcry. Are we merely distracted by all the gewgaws and knick-knacks; are we dumbed down by the constant electronic pummeling of shit like American Idol and Rob and Amber Get Married; or are we just beaten, given up at any hope of openly confronting our masters?

Maybe all of the above; maybe we are destined (doomed) to spend our lives feeling like heavily mortgaged hamsters, never quite able to get off the wheel, never quite resourceful enough to get off the grid, never quite courageous enough to confront and depose the people who really need to be confronted and deposed. We allow our trust and good faith to be abused because we take it for granted that they will be abused no matter what, so we may as well get something out of the bargain.

We should think about the soldiers still over there, trying to do their jobs in an insane situation, sandbagged and sabotaged by their so-called leaders, wondering how the hell they'll ever rotate home when recruitment is nil and Iraq keep quickly descending into chaos and civil war.

Bush supposedly had his accountability moment, or not.

MIAMI - Miami-Dade County's elections chief has recommended ditching its ATM-style voting machines, just three years after buying them for $24.5 million to avoid a repeat of the hanging and dimpled chads from the 2000 election.

Elections supervisor Lester Sola said in a memo Friday that the county should switch to optical scanners that use paper ballots, based on declining voter confidence in the paperless touch-screen machines and quadrupled election day labor costs.

Fifteen of Florida's 67 counties chose touch-screen machines after the 2000 election fiasco. The machines have caused problems during at least six elections, including the September 2002 primary, when some polls could not open and close on time and Democratic primary results for governor were delayed by a week.

Call it a conspiracy theory all you like, but the fact is, you'll never know. You want to doublecheck the precincts that voted with touch-screen machines? You can't. There's no paper trail; there's no receipt.

There's no excuse for it, except the obvious one that we don't want to acknowledge. But as Jeff Wells at Rigorous Intuition is fond of saying, not everything is a conspiracy, just the important stuff.

And the whole time, the corrupt clowns running the show look you in the eye and say, "Who you gonna believe -- me or your lyin' eyes?". Let's think about that and do something about it next year at the polls, if for no other reason than to demonstrate that the freedom for which these brave soldiers fought and died still actually means something to us.

Think about it -- they don't even respect us enough to tell us the goddamned truth about anything. When we get tired of them treating us citizens like children, the whole world will thank us for it.


Diane said...

Well said, Heywood. These times are hard times, but it's during such hard times that we have to do what we know to be right.

Words such as yours make that possible.

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