Surging Ahead, Page After Page
Wednesday - March 14, 2007
Let’s see. This morning, I read in the paper that Danny Akaka’s Senate Veterans Affairs’ Committee heard testimony that “a quarter of military veterans with disability cases” wait six months or longer before the Department of Veterans Affairs decides on their claims.
Six months. A man’s wife could walk on him in that time. He could fall behind on his rent, have his car repossessed, maybe even miss a meal or two.
Aw, shucks, chalk it up to one of the costs of serving your country: Take a bullet or a roadside bomb and wait six months for Veterans Affairs to compensate your loss.
All part of “the mission,” I guess.
Or how about this on Page 2? The president of the United States, George W. “Support the Troops” Bush, has appointed a bipartisan commission to investigate the squalid conditions of outpatient facilities at Washington’s Walter Reed Army Medical Center.
Yep. The president’s reportedly mad about those facilities and the mistreatment those valiant young people have received. His support is welcome - four years late in coming, but welcome nonetheless.
Ah, yes, then there’s Page 6; thereon I get my daily dose of killing. “Suicide bomber kills 30 in café; 90 dead across Iraq,” the headline reads. Shiites are making their annual pilgrimage to the holy city of Karbala, and Sunnis are killing as many of them as they can.
Just as they did a year ago. And the year before that. And the year before that.
Oh, and some young Americans died too. Three of them. Another was wounded. Thirteen from Sunday through Thursday - 3,188 since the beginning of the war. Then there are all those wounded (20,000 or so?) who have come home to the embrace of the Department of Veterans Affairs or Walter Reed Army Medical Center.
According to another item on Page 6, the president’s escalation of the war - his surge - will receive another 2,200 military police and 7,000 support troops. “Other troop requests (were) still being considered in the Pentagon” according Defense Secretary Robert Gates.
More young men and women we can support with the WRAMC facilities and the caring concern of the VA.
By the time I’d finished the Iraq news on Page 6, I didn’t know whether to fetch another cup of coffee from the kitchen or go to the bathroom and open a vein. For you see, despite my advanced years and deepening cynicism, I believe in democracy.
I believe democratic elections allow voters to express their frustrations with policies and politicians - and that policies and politicians change as a result. Hell, I’ve even been known to urge people to go out and vote - whether their opinions coincided with mine or not - in the conviction that maybe, just maybe, my views were wrong.
So we had an election last fall and the president’s policy in Iraq was overwhelmingly rejected. Democrats won the Senate, the House of Representatives, and even took over a heap of governorships and state legislatures.
And four months after that election, a New York Times/CBS News poll shows that only 29 percent of the American people approve of the way Bush is doing his job. Only 23 percent approve of the way he is dealing with the Iraq War.
I’ll repeat that. Only 23 percent approve of the way Bush is dealing with the Iraq War.
Why then do we “surge?” Why then do we escalate? Why, when we can’t provide adequate care for the kids who are coming home, do we send more of them to die and be maimed? Why is the will of the people, expressed in the 2006 election and in every recent poll, being ignored?
I don’t know. Maybe democracy doesn’t work. You would think that those Democrats elected last November and the few sane and responsible Republicans left in the Congress would heed the will of the people, that they would gather their courage and support the troops by bringing them home.
You’d think so, anyway - by the time you’d reached Page 6.
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