It's not news that I'm an Obama supporter, nor should it be a surprise that almost everyone else I vote for this fall will be a Democrat. Not because I'm actually partial to that party, but because the alternative can only perpetuate the problems we're facing. The Republican party has aligned itself too closely with corporations and religious zealots to be of any fruitful purpose anymore. They need to spend another couple of election cycles reinventing themselves. The Democrats have had to do this, though they are by no means done. You have Obama, Dean, and the netroots doing the dragging, while Pelosi, Emmanuel, and the DLC kick, scream and claw at the status quo ante. But at least they're far enough along to be capable of progress.
One of the cornerstones of the current incarnation of the Republican party is the cover-up. It dates back to at least Nixon. The greater a person's power, the less responsibility they have. Image is everything, and anything that would reflect poorly on said powers is to be concealed, denied, and distracted from. If someone has to take the fall, it's someone as low as can be found.
Sadly, this has also become a cornerstone of the US military. Covering your ass is undoubtedly as old as organized armed conflict. I'm a pragmatist, I understand that in some situations, the absolute best, right thing is just not practical given limited time and resources. Sometimes a little white lie moves things along for good intentions. But we've moved way beyond that. It's now harming our foreign policy and reputation, it's harming our government's ability to function, and it's getting people killed.
Remember Pat Tillman? The professional football player who walked away from that lucrative career, following the 2001 terrorist attack, choosing to answer a call to service, who was later killed by friendly fire. Someone on the blue team fucked up and killed a fellow soldier. Except that's not what his family or the public was told. The brass said he was killed by enemy fire. It took more than a year to find out (resisted by Army and Pentagon brass, and the administration, at every turn) that was a conscious lie.
Well, it doesn't stop there. Kamisha Block was a 20 year old soldier from Vidor, Texas. She died in the summer of 2007. It was reported in the press and to her family, by the Army, that she was killed by friendly fire. A fuckup (an "accident") by an ally had cost this young woman her life. Is that what actually happened? Of course not. (If it was, why would I be writing this?)
And for a moment, let us remember that officially, women don't serve in combat. In reality, that's a lie too. Don't tell ginmar to her face that women aren't knowingly sent into combat. If you're lucky, she'll just let the cats shred you to death with their claws. She's been there, done that, and got the PTSD to show for it.
So back to Specialist Block. The fire that killed her was indeed from a "friendly" soldier. But it wasn't in battle, and it wasn't in training. Specialist Block was a victim of sexual harassment who was murdered by her harasser. (Who then killed himself.)
Look, another coverup to protect the image of the outfit!
(Insert another rant here about cases like Haditha, Hamdania, and Abu Ghraib, for which no one with any seniority has suffered.)
This culture needs to die. Not merely change, but die. Extremely, prejudiciously, terminate. This culture is the work of few, but it casts suspicion upon everyone in uniform. (You can't often tell a sleazebag from an honset soldier or sailor just by looking at them.) And this culture is a hazard to everyone in uniform.
There's a little boy who I think would very much like to serve in the military one day. I understand his motivations. I understand his attraction to duty and service. (I laugh in light of his complete dereliction of present duty and responsibility.) I think I've succeeded at convincing him that enlisting is not a good option for him at all, that if he goes that route, he's better off doing it through one of the academies, or getting his degree elsewhere and applying to Officer Candidate School. But in light of this culture, I'd prefer he not go at all. People like that are not worthy of his service or sacrifice.
And I really don't ever want to find myself in a place where I'm contemplating becoming the instrument to inflict suffering upon people who have so richly earned it.
Step to face, I'll break your ass in two, bastard
You... rather swim in some fuckin' hot tar
Before you fuck wit' Willie D
'cause what I got for... your ass will make you shit your meal
'Cause it's die motherfuckas, die motherfuckas, still