Esoteric Dissertations from a One-Track Mind

April 30, 2008

Bush: The Multi-Generational Disaster

Filed under: politics — Tags: , , , — codesmithy @ 8:35 am

George W. Bush is trying hard to secure his crown as the worst president ever. At a recent press conference, he proposed his solution to high gas prices: open up the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge to drilling. This is about par for the course for the Republican party, McCain proposed a summer gas-tax holiday.

The real question is how the Republican party taken seriously. We can start with the gas-tax holiday. Remove the tax, fine, how are you going to pay for the roads? In case one hasn’t noticed our road infrastructure isn’t doing so great. In fact, you could accurately say it is falling down. Since the tax is already on a per-gallon basis, it isn’t like the public coffers are overflowing. There hasn’t been a wonderful explanation of where that money is going. Although, if gas is at record prices and corporations are recording record profits, I don’t really see how it is really much of a mystery. Well, we have $16 billion accounted for, how much are we looking for again?  I expect another couple billion will show up in the next couple of days as other oil companies report their profits.

Bush said in his policy proposal that he was “hoping now people, when they say “ANWR,” means you don’t care about the gasoline prices that people are paying.”

Fine, I’ll take that incrimination.  I realize that $3.50 as opposed to $4.00 makes a difference to people’s lives today.  But I also realize that $.50 cents of cheaper gas comes at the cost of our environment, pumps more carbon dioxide into our atmosphere, and delays us from transitioning our infrastructure.  In the end game, it won’t make a lick of difference because oil has no future for another reason.  And that reason is China.  You know, our largest creditor.  See, they are going to start using that money we keep giving to them.  When they do, they are competing with us for oil on a dollar for dollar basis.  There is no brilliant strategy here.  There is no monetary option beyond inflation to counteract that massive credit they have over us, but inflation hardly helps us obtain foreign commodities (like oil).  In short, to spite China’s debt we’d end up destroying our own currency and we still wouldn’t get gas.  Cheap oil is at an end.  We’ve already given it away for cheap Chinese products.  It is time to move on.

But if I allow the president’s incrimination, then I feel I should be able to offer one in return.  If there is any justice in this world, or sense of proportion, then there is one thing I hope for: that the Republican party becomes synonymous with disaster.  The disaster of the 9/11 attacks which any competent administration would have done more to prevent.  The disaster of the government response to Hurricane Katrina.  The disaster of our crumbling infrastructure.  The disaster of our soaring debt.  The disaster of Enron.  The disaster of the credit crisis.  The disaster of our endless war in Iraq.  The disastrous decline of American standing and reputation around the world.  There will, no doubt, be countless others.

Although, what makes me laugh, what really tickles my fancy is that Bush thinks history will judge him kindly.  It is that extra-touch that makes him truly spectacular failure: certitude.  And this Republican party, with an extraordinarily small number of exceptions, goose-stepped down the path the Glorious Road the Fearless Leader hath blazed.  Lest we forget, one of those loyal followers was McCain.

Bush is the Chernobyl of presidents, a multi-generational disaster.  His embrace should render one politically radioactive.  His legacy should be toxic.  Electing another Republican as president should make as much sense as doubling-down a busted hand.  That is what I hope for, my pillaging president.

April 29, 2008

DNC’s Ad Attacking McCain

Filed under: economy, politics — Tags: , — codesmithy @ 8:15 am

The Democratic National Committee has a new ad attacking McCain’s stance on Iraq.

It is tough to say what grounds the RNC is crying foul on, maybe that staying in Iraq is only fine with him if only American causalities are acceptable.  However, historical evidence seems to indicate if things are going well, that means the strategy is working and we should stay the course.  If things get worse, then leaving will embolden the enemy.  It is a “heads I win, tails you lose” scenario.

The neo-conservative goal, which McCain has whole-hearted adopted, is to setup a pliable client-state in the heart of the Middle East.  There is no exit strategy.  The plan is to stay.  Iraq is indicative of imperial overreach that will end American prosperity.  Countless economists will be brought out to dissuade us commoners from believing that the state of the economy has anything to do with the war in Iraq.  There is no connection, or they can’t understand the connection.  They’ll argue, historically, wars have been good for the economy.

So where is the missing link?  The problem of course is that the “war analysis” is at best superficial.  War improve economies by improving the need for domestic goods, normally bombs and other munitions.  These facilities are then repurposed after the war ends for exportable goods.  This can lead to a great deal of prosperity, but the key to a good war economy is a concerted effort to invest in infrastructure.

The Iraq war is coming at the expense of infrastructure.  It is not an exaggeration to say that billions of dollars just literally disappear.  When you combine this with tax-cuts that feed a consumer class based on debt, what do you get?  That is right, inflation, lot’s of inflation.  Inflation is where we are at folks and it ain’t going away anytime soon.  We live in a borrowed prosperity.

So, when picking your next president, think of it terms of picking an interest rate that you’ll need to pay back.  The money is already borrowed, it just about how much we throw down the hole to chase it.  McCain’s interest rate is insanely high, Obama’s and Clinton’s are pretty low, although there is a one in ten chance that Hillary loses it and bombs Iran.  Although, to be fair with McCain it is virtually guaranteed America will attack Iran.  If you think the next president won’t make any difference, maybe that $4.00 you pay per gallon at the pump will make you reconsider your position.

April 25, 2008

Daniel C. Dennett: Thank Goodness!

Filed under: culture, Education, religion — Tags: — codesmithy @ 8:28 am

I came across an article by Daniel C. Dennett, a “bright” philosopher of philosophy at Tufts University called “Thank Goodness!” It had a few ideas I tried to get across in an earlier post when talking about Chomsky’s remarks about religion. As I wrote at the time:

It therefore seems superficial to irrationally thank all these imaginary factors [god, prayer, etc.] without recognizing a few that actually made a tangible difference.

Dennett does an excellent job elaborating on that theme (before I thought of it no less!).  At some point I’m going to have to read his book “Breaking the Spell: Religion as a Natural Phenomenon,” but alas, there are only so many hours in a day.

In some ways I feel god is a stand-in for a tremendous amount of awe.  As a single person, with an individual capacity, I can’t imagine accomplishing feats such as building the car I drive from scratch, or the cell phone I use, or the apartment I live in, etc., etc.  Obviously there is someway to extract the resources of this earth in such a way to do it, but it is hard for me to fully comprehend everything it took to reach this point.  There are so many things we just take for granted, like not getting smallpox or polio that it are just extraordinarily difficult to quantify in any meaningfully way.  It seems too great for an individual, but nevertheless, it is something that we, a collection of individuals, do on a regular basis.

This is why religion scares me.  In one respect, it is insulting.  It is insulting to irrationally sing the praises of individuals and things which had no provable impact on a fortunate outcome while the people who made a difference are ignored.  If it were just in back-handed insult, I could probably ignore it.  The part that scares me is the lack of recognition.  The true believer really doesn’t see that it is us.  We did this.  Maybe with a little bit of luck and fortune, but also a lot of hard-work and sacrifice.  The failure to recognize that which is manifestly important to the essence, nature and achievement of our civilization will mean that it can be forgotten.  We can revert.  We can go back in the dark and watch the steady march of scientific progress crumble.  We can become the cargo cult worshipers, witch doctors, the people hoveled in superstition, ignorance and disinterest.  That possibility is the frightening one.

I realize there is no perfect time in history and there is no time to act in history other than the present.  Every generation must rewrite, replicate and reembody the values we wish to pass on.  However, it remains clear there are people who don’t get it.  They don’t get it because they are unable to place themselves in a world outside of themselves.  They are blind to the “goodness.”  A principle crutch to this blindness is religion.  If we care about preserving the “goodness” of the civilization, it is in our interest to takeaway that crutch.

How?  Teach comparative religion starting as early as possible.  Let them know there are at least 2 billion people who disagree with them no matter what religion they choose.  I believe the fundamental humility this realization breeds is as essential to the thinking we try to promote in education and the secular principles of our society as any other.

Religion is a real phenomenon and too important to leave to just the theologians.

April 23, 2008

The Right-Wing Smear Machine

Filed under: media, politics — Tags: , — codesmithy @ 8:00 am

I’m nearly finished reading “Great American Hypocrites: Toppling the Big Myths of Republican Politics” by Glenn Greenwald. In the book, Greenwald explores how the right-wing effectively markets their candidates and how in reality these candidates bear little to no resemblance to the myths that are propagated about them. On the flip-side, the right-wing is successfully able to smear Democratic candidates with seemingly reckless abandon. The criticism of Democratic candidates is hardly substantive, it involves the endless droning about the same misinformation which is endlessly repeated. Even in supposedly more “respectable” venues, what in more honest days would be called “political gossip,” pundits vapidly ask whether or not such controversies would hurt the candidate in the various election contests.

One must ask: what purpose endlessly chirping and hand-wringing over manufactured issues serve? The discussion certainly isn’t enlightening. What it does aid is the repetition of the lie. Information transmission is not a perfect process. There are still people who believe Marie Antoinette said “let them eat cake” or Columbus proved the world was round. It is not because there is a lack of information to disprove these beliefs, it is the fact these untruths are endless repeated from a multitude of sources and go unquestioned. The power of the right-wing is in setting the agenda. They do this through the Internet (through sites like Drudge, etc.), Radio (Limbaugh, etc.), T.V. (Fox News) and subsequently disseminated through the “liberal” media, often wholesale. One can view how it works in the following video.

Brave New Films post.

There is no rising above this. If the Democrats are interested in winning this November they must insist on holding the Republican candidate to the same standard. This will be particularly challenging because of the way the establishment media is infatuated with John McCain. The only problem with the Democratic primary getting drawn out is that it gives more time for the right-wing smear machine to work without adequately responding as was evidenced in the ABC debate. Democrats need to pick a candidate who will win in November and this is becoming more difficult for either eventual nominee because the right-wing smears are being unmet.

At the end of the day, Democrats need to use their political will-power to put these issues on the table:

  1. McCain was fifth from the bottom in class rank, 894th out of 899.
  2. a sub-par flier, with limited patience for studying aviation manuals.
  3. Crashed his plane THREE times, before shot down and taken prisoner.
  4. Possible/alleged role in Forrestal fire?

The big one is number 4.

From the Daily Kos post:

McCain and the Forrestal’s skipper, Capt. John K. Beling, were warned about the danger of using M-65 1000-lb. bombs manufactured in 1935, which were deemed too dangerous to use during World War II and, later, on B-52 bombers. The fire from the Zuni misfire resulted in the heavy 1000 pounders being knocked loose from the pylons of McCain’s A-4, which were only designed to hold 500-pound bombs.’ WMR further reported, ‘The unstable bombs had a 60-second cook-off threshold in a fire situation and this warning was known to both Beling and McCain prior to the disaster.’

…crewmen aboard the Forrestal have provided additional information about the Forrestal incident. It is believed by many crewmen and those who have investigated the case that McCain deliberately ‘wet-started’ his A-4E to shake up the guy in the plane behind his A-4. ‘Wet-starts’, done either deliberately or accidentally, shoot a large flame from the tail of the aircraft.

In McCain’s case, the ‘wet-start’ apparently ‘cooked off’ and launched the Zuni rocket from the rear F-4 that touched off the explosions and massive fire. The F-4 pilot was reportedly killed in the conflagration.

‘Wet starting’ was apparently a common practice among young ‘hot-dog’ pilots. McCain was quickly transferred to the USS Oriskany (the only Forrestal crewman to be immediately transferred). After the disaster, McCain was shot down over North Vietnam on October 26, 1967.

…informed by knowledgeable sources, including an ex-Navy A-4 pilot, the ‘wet-start game’ was a common occurrence. However, it is between ‘very unlikely’ and ‘impossible’ for the Forrestal ‘wet start’ to have been accidental. ‘Wet starts’ were later rendered impossible by automated engine controls.”

None of this has any of the respectability necessary to make it a mainstream story (yet). However, we need to ask: what was McCain’s role in the Forrestal incident? Did McCain wet start his A-4? Let’s not forget that McCain’s dad was an Admiral in the Navy at this time either. Did he have a role in a cover-up? These are the types insinuations that Democrats are constantly responding too. It is time to throw some mud back. However, unlike the right-wing lies, these issues are actually substantive under any rubric of a “character issue,” but they are not going to become an issue until there is a concerted effort to make them one.

April 21, 2008

Selling the War: The Unending Endeavor

Filed under: film, media, politics — Tags: , , , — codesmithy @ 8:11 am

The New York Times ran an article exposing the complicity and collusion of “objective” military experts in the pre- and post-invasion coverage of the Iraq War. Glenn Greenwald has some additional commentary that is worth reading.

To bring this into perspective, there was a belief among certain segments of the military and hawkish politicians that it was the news coverage that eroded the popular support and eventually forced the U.S. withdrawal from Vietnam. There was a concerted effort by the Pentagon to ensure this did not happen to this conflict. This is but one facet of the larger effort.

Was the coverage slanted in the run-up to the war? Yes. This is not surprising. What is surprising is that nothing has changed. The media still trots out pro-war advocates like Kenneth M. Pollack as one-time critics, sober, serious, independent evaluators of Bush’s foreign policy. As Pollack tellingly reveals:

Some other analysts do not object to Mr. McCain’s portraying the insurgency (or multiple insurgencies) in Iraq as that of Al Qaeda. They say he is using a “perfectly reasonable catchall phrase” that, although it may be out of place in an academic setting, is acceptable on the campaign trail, a place that “does not lend itself to long-winded explanations of what we really are facing,” said Kenneth M. Pollack, research director at the Saban Center for Middle East Policy at the Brookings Institution.

Pollack, a man who sees no problem conflating threats. He who has no problem with politicians over simplifying the situation in Iraq and just group everyone who is attacking our troops in a country that we invaded with the people who attacked us on 9/11. In other words, Pollack has no problem with politicians manipulating and lying to the American public which he deems too stupid or ignorant to understand the complexity of the situation to support the position that he has always supported: we go and we stay.  These are the experts the “liberal” news media consults as the independent observers.  These voices are never culled and there is never any indication to suggest how consistently wrong they have been.  It is just denial after denial from the news organizations until confronted with incontrovertible evidence which is then met with uniform and deafening silence.

As for the overall political climate such coverage helps create, it is important to realize there are four classes of people in this conflict: hawkish soldiers, dutiful soldiers, doves and chicken hawks. When compared to past wars, the group which has seen the largest growth are the chicken hawks. To the degree that this war continues, the 9/11 generation is increasingly the chicken hawk generation.  Maybe this should be no surprise considering that it was led by a president who used family connections to serve in the National Guard and a vice-president who received multiple deferments and is similarly cheered on by a cast of similarly chicken hawk personalities such as Rush Limbaugh, Mitt Romney, and Fred Thompson (which is documented along with others in Greenwald’s book “Great American Hypocrites.”)

It would be bad enough if this were just some academic debate.  Something where we could disagree and get a beer afterwards.  But people are dying and people are being horrendously injured.  This occupation needs to end.  If you don’t listen to me, a dove.   How about a dutiful soldier.

April 20, 2008

4/20: Chomsky on Marijuana

Filed under: culture, history, politics — Tags: , , — codesmithy @ 9:30 am

In honor of 4/20, Chomsky explores the history of marijuana criminalization.

In recent news, Rep. Barney Frank (D-MA) recently introduced a bill to help decriminalize marijuana.

April 19, 2008

Debunking 9/11 Myths and McCain’s History Problem

Filed under: books, history, media, politics — Tags: , — codesmithy @ 10:33 am

I recently got done reading “Debunking 9/11 Myths: Why Conspiracy Theories Can’t Stand Up to the Facts” edited by David Dunbar and Brad Reagan. To my dismay, there is a foreword by Senator John McCain. The contents of the book, aside from the foreword, are good. I got it more for the second part of the title, the Why Conspiracy Theories Can’t Stand Up to the Facts as a case study on how to deconstruct denialism, more than the refuting of particular 9/11 myths.

The book is flawed in certain ways. One is that they tend to cherry-pick claims to refute. I understand the difficulty of proving that certain claims are representative of the community. However, there seems to be no clear criteria that they use for which claims they choose to refute besides finding them on one of many 9/11 conspiracy websites. To make matters worse, they often bring in irrelevant information to the claims. For example, certain conspiracy sites talk about a “New World Order.” While I understand the intention may have been to give an indication of the type of far out beliefs the sites hold, it is also prejudicial. The specific claims about events are either supported by the evidence or not. Whether or not one believes there is a plan for a “New World Order” is irrelevant. On the plus side, the book does a good job of destroying the conspiracy theorists claims. From the media I’ve encountered from the 9/11 truth movement, the claims Popular Mechanics debunks are reasonably representative. The only real question is if they ignored some popular 9/11 myths, which is why I wish they were clearer on their methodology for deciding which claims to refute.

This brings us to the worst part of the book: the foreword. For a book whose purpose is to debunk 9/11 myths, the editors of Popular Mechanics let by far the largest, most pervasive 9/11 myth through. It is the big lie that has been more damaging, destructive and offensive than all the other conspiracy theories combined. The one that isn’t aimed at the U.S. government, but rather those who perpetrated the attack.

But as 19 men showed the world their worst, we Americans displayed what makes our country great: courage and heroism, compassion and generosity, unity and resolve. We were united, first in sorrow and anger, then in recognition that we were attacked not for a wrong we had done, but for who we are – a people united in a kinship of ideals, committed to the notion that the people are sovereign, and that people everywhere, no matter what their race or country or religion, possess certain universal and inalienable rights. (pg. xi)

No, we were not attacked because of who we are, we were attacked for what the government has done at the behest of elite interests. As the book explores, the attackers targeted very specific targets: the World Trade Center, Pentagon, and presumably the Capitol building. If they hated us for our freedoms, they would have hit the Statue of Liberty, the Liberty Bell, etc. Instead, they struck at centers of the United States hegemony, the nexus of funding, planning and implementation of U.S. foreign control and domination.

Yes, Osama Bin Laden believes in a theocratic Islamic state. However, you don’t see him going out of his way to attack Sweden or Norway. It wasn’t freedom any more than our health-care system. In fact, it wasn’t even because of the first Gulf War against Saddam. It was our continued military presence in the Middle East, especially Saudi Arabia. He saw us as setting up shop and brutally reacted against it. 15 of 19 of the 9/11 hijackers were from that one country.

Iraq to the U.S. is exactly what Afghanistan was to the Soviet Union. In fact, we happen to be in a little bit worse shape because on top of Iraq, the U.S. is also fighting in Afghanistan. Bin Laden planned on beating the United States the same way he defeated the Soviets, draw them into a quagmire. As the Power of Nightmares explores, the Islamic extremists believed they were the cause of the Soviet collapse as much as some conservative segments of the United States believed they were the cause. In truth, Mikhail Gorbachev’s assessment is likely the most accurate, it was corrupt internal forces that caused the collapse of the Soviet system. Gorbachev tried to reform too much, too quickly and the system collapsed.

This is why McCain should not be let anywhere near the presidency of the United States. He doesn’t understand the Middle East as this gaffe shows.

His policy in Iraq is that we keep fighting until there are no more U.S. causalities, then we stay.

He has talked about more wars, and joked about bombing Iran. Starting a war with Iran is clearly on the forefront of his mind.

Acknowledging the reason we were attacked is not the same as endorsing those reasons.  And for those who would defend McCain by saying that he never actually said we were attacked for our freedoms, he said that we were united because we recognized we were attacked for our freedoms.  If it were the case, as it is, that we were not attacked for our freedoms, it is the duty of a public official to set the record straight.  Instead, McCain peddles in myths.  He is a member of the party that helped propagate those myths, and benefits directly from them.

In the final analysis, “Debunking 9/11 Myths: Why Conspiracy Theories Can’t Stand Up to the Facts” is flawed not from the myths they examine, but rather those they leave unexamined and tacitly endorse.  Furthermore, McCain proves he is one of the last persons, we, the American people should trust to be president.

April 18, 2008

Ben Stein is (S)expelled?

Filed under: film, humor, religion, science — Tags: , , — codesmithy @ 7:13 am

Apparently there is another alternative theory that “big science” doesn’t want us to know about.

If sexual reproduction is so unassailable, what is big science so afraid of?  Why not just let “Avian Transportation Theory” speak, then say you ignorant fool, you didn’t know this, this and this.  Teach the controversy!

(h/t to the “Sex Maniac” himself)Richard Dawkins Suave

The less funny version is in limited release this Friday.  I would recommend going out of your way not to see it.  You’ll never get that hour of your life back.  The National Center for Science Education has a counter-site to Expelled.   I’m all for listening to what the other side has to say, if they are intellectual honest.  Ben Stein and his film Expelled are neither.  There is a difference between exploring another person’s point of view and subjecting yourself to one-sided, intellectually dishonest propaganda.  The second is rarely worthwhile.

April 17, 2008

Ben Stein Gets What He Asks For

Filed under: film, politics, religion, science — Tags: , , — codesmithy @ 8:31 am

With the upcoming release of Expelled, someone found some time to take Ben Stein up on his challenge and blow him out of the water with his claims about evolution.

Stein wraps his criticism as an exercise in honest skepticism against a big science establishment. Evolution is not a scientific theory about how life arose, it explains the complexity and diversity of life. We could fill volumes about what Charles Darwin didn’t know about biology, along with Ben Stein and myself. Why Darwin is revered is that the theory he first proposed, which has been subjected to intense scrutiny and further testing, has remained essentially intact. At this point, the theory really isn’t Darwin’s; he’s dead afterall. It now belongs to mankind and it is a key to understanding modern biology. Evolution is the theory that allows us to make sense biology much like how atomic theory allows us to make sense of chemistry.

Intelligent Design doesn’t make it in biology because the establishment fears it. It is because it isn’t science. Science is not the conglomeration of all human thought and belief. It is a body of knowledge built up by physical evidence, testing, open inquiry and logical integration with the existing body of knowledge based on this method. There is a barrier to entry in science: one needs evidence. Scientists have listened to what Intelligent Design has had to say, have investigated it, and have found it lacking. The most essential complaint with Intelligent Design seems to make no other prediction other than we will find more things that we will not initially understand, however it provides no insight into understanding them. What Stein is asking for is not to allow Intelligent Design to be considered on its merits. He is engaging in special pleading.

The question is not what “big science” fears. It is what Ben Stein fears. Maybe not Ben Stein specifically, but a segment of the world that is receptive to Ben Stein’s message. The important thing is not that what Stein says in Expelled is true, but rather that what Ben Stein says is plausible.

It is hard to believe in the Bible. It has a talking snake, a man made out of mud, a talking burning bush, global floods, virgin births, resurrections, transmutations, along with countless other stories that are way outside ordinary human experience. A natural thing to do is start to doubt them. The church recognizes this and has all sorts safeguards to guard against doubt. In Christianity, chastising Thomas the Doubter is common. However, the fact remains that believers need constant reassurance. This reassurance tends to be social. They need other people to believe. They need to know that there is some problem with the thinking of people who see a godless world. However, the key underpinning of religion is probably not its message about life, but rather people’s fear of death.

The role of the fear of death in religion can be understood indirectly by Pascal’s wager. What if god doesn’t exist, what happens after you die? No one can say for certain, but most likely it be like the time immemorial before one was born. My personal experience of that time was oblivion. What if god does exist and you don’t believe? Again this depends on which ancient myth one believes, but for the sake of argument let’s say it just so happened to be Jehova? Well, eternal damnation. If it happens to be Cthulhu, I think one is screwed either way. Pascal argued that one should believe any afterlife myth, because in the slim hope the belief turned out to be right, the benefits would vastly outweigh the consequences of being wrong.

The flaw in Pascal’s expected values are that the value of something infinitely large multiplied by a value infinitely small is undefined. And yes, Jehovah’s probability of being real is infinitely small in an honest evaluation. However, what one gives up by believing in a god like Jehovah is tangible. It is not seeing the world for what it really is: an utterly amazing place. Not because god made it that way, but because we made it that way. Not just human beings, but all our extraordinarily distant relatives who have existed on this planet for 3.5 billion years. Now we, human beings, are the only beings currently known that are smart enough to start to comprehend and become aware of the vast complexity of the universe. It is a unique gift, a fortunate circumstance of timing to be brought into the world in this era. Yet, here we are, poisoning and trashing the only home we’ve ever known and endangering our own survival.

Science is a threat to religion because it is the antithesis to religion. At the outset, it doesn’t incorporate religious belief into its body of knowledge. To the believer, this is disconcerting. More alarming, it proceeds to function perfectly fine without incorporating religious notions, and finally starts contradicting some tenets of faith, exposing them for what they are: ridiculous.

When Nietzsche declared god is dead, this is what he meant. Educated men could no longer logically accept religious tenets and known facts of the natural world. Expelled is an expression of denialism to this truth. At the end of the day, the only humane treatment for religion will be ridicule. In the meantime, the death of Hypatia warns us to be wary. However, if we truly believe science is a worthwhile pursuit, then we must demonstrate that commitment by defending it. It may be our best hope for the survival of the species.

April 16, 2008

McCain Opposes New GI Bill

Filed under: politics — Tags: , , — codesmithy @ 6:54 am

Salon has a piece on McCain’s opposition to a measure that would expand and renew the GI Bill.  What makes the opposition unconscionable is that a few days earlier, on the view, McCain talked about increasing the size of the military.  To entice more volunteers, for a unending war that we refuse to draft for, McCain said the government should focus on incentives: “[O]ne of the things we ought to do is provide [the troops with] significant educational benefits in return for serving.”

Crooks and Liars has video of him saying it.  It is about 4 minutes in.

Earlier in the video, McCain outlines his strategy for success.  We need to keep troops there until they stop getting killed, then they get to stay.

What is McCain’s rationale for opposing the GI Bill.  We can’t really say.  But, it might be along the same lines as Bush officials who “worry that a more generous and expansive GI Bill would create an incentive for troops to get out of the military and go to college.”

I didn’t agree with this war from the beginning.  Irrespective of that, the people who did fight deserve to be taken care of.  It is debatable whether an all volunteer force is better than a larger force with some conscription as far as the military mission is concerned.  However, what an all volunteer force does is relieve some of the political pressure.  Apathetic youth suddenly find a reason to participate in their government when they find out they might be the next victim of an IED.  Keeping the physical burden to a small group of volunteers and mercenaries combined with simply passing the financial burden onto the next generation of Americans seems to be the order of the day. As it stands, there is no shared sacrifice to this war in Iraq.  The people who did get called to go have had to bear an unfair burden.

In this respect, McCain is not a candidate that represents a departure from disastrous Bush policies.  He is more of the same.

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