W is for "Well-Wishing"

by Greg Method

Evidently, I don't support the troops.

Neither you do--that is, if you want them all home safe and sound.

What monsters we must be.

Seriously, that's what our old, shotgun-wielding pal Dick Cheney said on March 24 about Democrats, particularly those in the House of Representatives.

"They're not supporting the troops. They're undermining them," he grunted to a group from the Republican Jewish Coalition at a posh hotel north of Miami.

Someone tried to ask what exactly he meant by that, but it was too late. Cheney shot them in the face and then feigned another heart attack.

Apparently, Dickhead was referring to legislation that had been voted on in the House dealing with both funding the war in Iraq and its inevitable conclusion. The White House had been using him as the mouthpiece for the administration's sheer contempt for the one branch of the government that they can no longer control.

So lately what the Bush team has been doing is trying to guilt trip Congress into obeying their command. First they publicly questioned our representatives' patriotism when they considered cutting the funding for the war. And now that Congress had passed a bill granting more money for the war but with the provision that the war must end by September 2008, the administration is again crying foul. Only Karl Rove can twist the concept of wanting to get our troops out of harm's way into meaning that someone doesn't support the troops.

Bush in particular has threatened to veto such bills should they pass in both the House and Senate. So, he's going to deny more money going to his war effort, to his soldiers? Bush claims that it's unfair for spending bills to contain extra measures and conditions...riiight, because the Republicans have never done that!

I thought this money was desperately needed for the war. Evidently things really aren't that dire if Bush is going to drag his feet on passing such spending bills. He's trying to muscle authority over Congress again, refusing to even discuss the possibility of a withdrawal and instead just whining to the public about what them evil Democrats are doing. This is childish, cowardly behavior, and I think by now Americans can see through it.

"The consequences of imposing such a specific and random date of withdrawal would be disastrous," Bush said at a March meeting with the National Cattlemen's Beef Association (huh?). Am I the only one who feels that Bush has used up all of his prognostication tokens? Has this prick been right about anything concerning terrorism or the war so far??

But I'll give him the benefit of the doubt for a split second. The way Bush explains it, "Our enemies in Iraq would simply have to mark their calendars. They'd spend the months ahead plotting how to use their new safe haven once we were to leave." Um, I'm pretty sure they're plotting already, even without a set date. It's almost as if that wouldn't be an issue if the Iraqis were trained to defend themselves.

So pretty much, we can never plan on withdrawing the soldiers. All pullouts must supposedly be done in the middle of the night with no preconceived planning or scheduling whatsoever. Well gosh, if it's that easy, then getting the troops home is bound to happen, right? All we need to do is just trust George W. "doesn't read security briefings and doesn't believe in science" Bush! When has he ever let us down?

Oh yeah, the massive, history-bending terrorist attack he failed to prevent because he was on vacation.

And when the specifics just don't sound all that specific enough to this war, Bush then goes back to the generalities and vague threats that started this whole mess.

"If we cannot muster the resolve to defeat this evil in Iraq, America will have lost its moral purpose in the world and we will endanger our citizens," Bush continued.

Um, forgive me for sounding naive, but our "moral purpose??" I thought we invaded Iraq because they supposedly posed a threat to us, that they supposedly had these...you know...weapons they were going to use on us. I thought this was a war we had to fight. Now the story is that we invaded Iraq because we have a vague "moral purpose in the world??" Well shit, now I see why we have to stay there! We might lose face in the world!

But for Bush to stand there and argue that withdrawing troops would be some sort of unclear tactical error is just simple-minded nonsense. What he's really worried about is how this will play out in history books. He's deathly afraid of this being characterized as another Vietnam, in which the mighty United States again couldn't defeat unarmed, near-tribal villagers and had to again scurry away with our tail between our legs. That's the only "disaster" he's concerned with, his lousy legacy. And he's playing political chess over it using our troops as real-life pawns.

Supporting the troops. What does that mean anymore anyway? Someone please tell me exactly how one supports the troops. I want to know, and I never received the 2007 government handbook on it in the mail. What, do I have to pay something, send something, say something? Do I have to order a hooker online and direct her to a camp staked out in Baghdad at the corner of Main Street and Virginia Avenue (bet you didn't know we were renaming the streets there, did ya?)? Does anyone know how one supports the troops, or has the phrase become so overused and so cliche-ridden that it's lost all meaning and significance?

I'm betting on the latter, which is a shame because in theory it's a nice thought. But, too many people have stripped off their clothes and rolled around in it so much, getting the scent all over them, that the very concept of supporting the troops has become tainted and funkified.

And really, it's our own damn fault for letting this happen only because we slurp it up like free soup. I think if any one group has been completely manipulated for cheap sentimentality, it's the U.S. military. The strong, silent pride that was once there has been replaced with a slushy, Full House-esque "Awww" feeling. Soldiers are used like sick children being dragged out for a Jerry Lewis telethon, meant to do nothing more than tug on our heartstrings and squeeze that last tear out of our eyes. "Oh my, it's beautiful...it's a United States staff sergeant!"

And what's all the more frustrating is that it's not the soldiers' fault. They're not allowed to say jack shit as long as they're serving, so one can't just walk up to a microphone and say, "Look, we're not all heroes. We're just trying to support our families back home by serving our country." We don't let these guys and girls be modest; we turn every moment they're around us into the final medal-ceremony scene from Star Wars. Most of the people currently serving aren't in it for the warm fuzzies. I'm not saying we should just ignore them, but can we stop pretending that every single one of them is wearing a red cape and hates Kryptonite? Troops have been turned into a cliche, and we need to do something to change that back.

Besides, the best way to show that we care about them is to bring them home and out of harm's way.

Does it matter that the majority of Americans want the troops out? In February the Washington Post and ABC News released a poll that reported that not only did 56 percent of Americans "strongly object" to a surge in troops, but also 53 percent "favored setting a deadline for troop withdrawals." And of those, a fourth of them wanted all soldiers home within in six months, while a fifth wanted them home within a year.

Also according to the poll, 64 percent of Americans said that the war was not worth fighting. That same answer came from 51 percent of veterans and 53 percent of veteran households.

In the same vein, on March 6 USA Today and Gallup released another poll in which only 28 percent of Americans believed that the United States will win this war. Just think about that for a second: only just a shade over a quarter of the country thinks that we can win a war we started against a tiny country of nomads. Not surprisingly, Bush's approval rating has also dipped down to 28 percent, a clear indication of how his term and legacy will be singularly defined by this fiasco. Meanwhile, 59 percent said that the war was a mistake, an all-time high for that question.

The poll also found that six in ten Americans want Congress to set a timetable to pull all troops out of Iraq by the end of 2008. Three-fourths said that Congress should force soldiers to withdraw if the Iraq government is unable to decrease the violence themselves. And until then, 54 percent of Americans want a set cap on troop levels in Iraq, an idea proposed by Sen. Hillary Clinton.

Now, are all those people undermining the troops?

Is Dickhead going to be prompted up on his one good leg and tell me that as much as 72 percent of the country does not support its own military? Does that make sense to you? It certainly doesn't to me. I didn't realize one had to unconditionally agree with the Bush agenda in order to support the troops.

You can want the war to end and still support the troops. You can want the troops to come home and still support the troops. You can want Congress to stop funding the war and still support the troops. This may be a shocker to some, but you can hate Bush and want a firework to fly up his ass and explode into a million pieces and still support the troops.

Aren't we supposed to be past this by now anyway? When did the concept of the Iraq war get mixed back into the idea of wanting our soldiers to be safe? I thought we finally got the two apart, living in separate houses, and slapped a restraining order between them. So what's up? When did a very specific war and the general concept of supporting our military becoming symbiotic again?

Deep down, I think what the administration wants is for anti-war people to be painted as Vietnam-era flower children again. You know, the stereotypical ones who used to spit at soldiers and call them "babykillers." They want Jane Fonda to crawl out of the woodwork and get politically involved again just so they can try to twist it and make everyone feel guilty for daring to question the judgment, mental capacity, or priorities of a pampered, alcoholic oil tycoon whose entire life was handed to him.

Speaking of Vietnam, it never fails to amaze me how the people who currently preach the loudest about supporting the troops are the ones who had nothing but contempt for military service back when it was their time to serve. Bush's father shuffled him into the cushy Texas Air National Guard (which surely saw a lot of action being so close to both the Vietnamese border and our shoreline...seriously, what is that, like, the 127th line of defense?), which then looked the other way when he was late or absent from duty and then when he just up and deserted his post to go out drinking for eighteen years. And Dickhead loved the military so much that he desperately wormed his way out of the draft five times, even going so far as pressuring the first woman in sight to marry him and then later to go off the pill and bear his child when a ban was lifted that prevented married men without children from serving.

So I guess I can't say that Bush or Cheney telling us how to support our troops holds any weight. When it was their time to support the U.S. military, they ran. That was certainly their prerogative, but that hardly puts them in a higher position than you or me.

But enough about random citizens. What about those very troops?

On March 20, the AFP ran an interesting story about the soldiers in the 9th Cavalry Regiment, who were on late night Humvee patrol in Baghdad. They had just learned that Bush was cautioning that their deployment could be extended. Would you like to know what some of them had to say, that is when they weren't swearing up a storm?

"We just want to get out of here as soon as possible," said the vehicle commander.

"Bush should send all the Death Row prisoners here and they can be killed fighting the terrorists," chimed in another soldier. "We've had enough."

"Bush can come fight here," added yet another. "He can take my 1,000 dollars a month and I'll go home."

Lieutenant Brian Long, the squad's commander, summed it up by saying, "One of the men has five children, another has three. Another has a boy aged four. He's missed two of those years. He'll never get them back....It is like the movie Groundhog Day. Each day is the same and nothing ever changes....It's tough. Everyone just wants to get home to their families."

Sooo...are the troops not supporting the troops by wanting to come home?!? Go ahead, Dickhead, tell the world that our brave men and women fighting overseas are trying to undermine their own efforts to not get killed. I dare you. No, I triple dog dare you. See how far that gets you.

Supporting the troops? Bush, Cheney, and the bunch don't really support the troops, at least not in a way that actually helps them. They only support them in the abstract, as a mere courtesy. Their "support" amounts to nothing more than well-wishing. To them, "support the troops" is on par with "V for victory." It's just a cliche to them, a sound byte, one drenched with automatic sentimentality.

But okay, I'll play this little reindeer game. They want to talk about supporting the troops? Fine, let's talk about supporting the troops. Because it seems to me that there has been no one in this country who has supported the troops less than the Bush administration has.

Let's start with the big enchilada, going to war. Or rather, going to war based on a lie that was supported by flimsy, made-up evidence that was proven as bullshit soon after. Or if you want to be really technical, abusing minor exploratory powers granted by Congress to go after an enemy of the family and seize a sovereign nation's sole and profitable natural resource, while alienating and insulting our allies to the point where all military action fell onto us. Is that looking out for the soldiers' best interest? A president is only supposed to go to war when absolutely necessary, and the reason is because of the potential danger to the troops. So how is this supporting the troops?

Or let's go back to July 2, 2003 in the Roosevelt Room. Oh, you remember, it was such a gay event (but enough about a bunch of old white guys hanging out together). Everyone was there--George, Colin, Elias, Tommy, and the gang. Bushie-poo wanted to announce that he was nominating former AT&T Vice Chairman Randall Tobias to serve as the nation's first Global AIDS Coordinator. Naturally, after the boring old customary speech crap, Bush opened the floor to questions. And right off the bat....

"Mr. President, a posse of small nations--like the Ukraine and Poland--are materializing to help keep the peace in Iraq. But with the attacks on U.S. forces and the casualty rates rising, what is the administration doing to get larger powers, like France and Germany and Russia, to join the American occupation there?" asked the Associated Press's Deb Reichman.

Bush babbled out some rhetoric about the mighty power and reach of the U.S. military before reaching the real wince-inducing moment:

"There are some who feel like--that the conditions are such that they can attack us there," he explained. "My answer is, bring them on."

Bring them on.

Tough words from someone who wasn't actually there to see it being brought on.

"Bring them on??" Here we have the chief commander of the armed forces essentially egging on enemy suicide bombers, snipers, and other deranged zealots who would easily sacrifice themselves if it meant taking a couple of us out. Bush might as well have said, "Yeah, we sure are cocky and brave and we're in the fight of our lives, but I'm bettin' them Iraqi pussies won't be able to lay a dirty brown finger on our guys."

Seriously, Bush keeps wanting to lump the Iraqis we're fighting with just general terrorists and Muslim fundamentalists. Well, is it wise then to taunt them with the idea of attacking our soldiers?? You know, just in case they...oh, I dunno...go for it??

Why wasn't this considered as undermining our troops? Some lazy, drunken redneck who never stepped onto a battlefield in his life is going to try to bluff the enemy? Tell them to sic 'em?? Bush was only 6,200 miles away from the fighting, so obviously he wasn't putting himself at risk with his stupid, thoughtless macho talk. Who would be the ones who'd have to answer for that should someone decide to take him up on his offer? If that's supporting the troops, then Joel Schumacher is a competent director.

Or how about the old chestnut of not supplying the soldiers with the necessary things to...you know...stay alive. In December 2004 Time indicated that out of the 19,389 military Humvees that were in Iraq at the time, "5,910 are fully armored, while an additional 9,134 are outfitted with less effective, bolted-on armor. But that leaves 4,345 humvees without any armor."

In January 2006 the New York Times reported of a similar problem on a much more personal scale. According to the article, "A secret Pentagon study has found that at least 80 percent of the marines who have been killed in Iraq from wounds to their upper body could have survived if they had extra body armor. That armor has been available since 2003 but until recently the Pentagon has largely declined to supply it to troops despite calls from the field for additional protection, according to military officials."

So, again, how is this not undermining our troops and their effort? They're being sent into a war without armor to protect them from dying. Parents are forced to have to buy bullet-proof vests here at home and then ship them off to their son or daughter like they were sending them a batch of homemade cookies. And do you think the government is reimbursing those families for shelling out money for that armor? Of course not.

And hey, why should they? After all, you go to war with the army you have, not the army you wish to have, right? So why even bother with pesky little things like improving on that army you have by making sure they have all the necessary protection?

Supporting the troops...my ass they are!

If the Bush administration really supported the troops, then would they have been obsessively cutting taxes the way they have? An enlisted man or woman in the military can make anywhere between $12,000 and $94,000 a year. Where do you think that money comes from? Taxes. That's also where the money for the aforementioned armor, supplies, fresh water, etc. comes from too. If Bush really supported the troops, then why wouldn't he have given our tax money to the soldiers? It's perfectly legal and well within his power, right? What, doesn't he think they deserve the money, either in terms of salary or extra funding? For someone who wants us all to support the troops, he sure isn't letting us actually support the troops.

Bush wants to have his cake and eat it too. He doesn't want us to pay the troops in way of taxes, yet he doesn't want war-funding to be cut off. Sorry, but you can't have it both ways. Our taxes help fund the war. If you refuse to accept our tax money to pay for it, then the war gets less money. There's no extra source of income that you're sitting on...well, okay, there was thanks to President Clinton, but you blew your cocaine-dusted nose with that within weeks. But anyway, that's the way it's always been. Someone really needs to sit down with him and explain the U.S. tax system.

Besides, if I may play devil's advocate for a second, why is cutting the funding so "disastrous" anyway? I'm pretty sure war-funding can't just come from congressional allocation. Where are all the rich shits who believed in Bush in 2004? Where are their billions to send to Tikrit? And wasn't the oil we were stealing from the Iraqis supposed to be funding this war and the reconstruction? And weren't the pumps and pipelines the first things Halliburton ordered the military to guard in the days leading up to the war? So, where did it all go?

According to the BBC, "crude production is currently still below the pre-war level." Currently production is at about two million barrels a day, about a third of what the United States government was hoping for at this point.

The aforementioned Washington Post/ABC News poll found that nearly half of the country is okay with cutting funding as long as it gets soldiers home. I would find it incredibly hard to believe that every single relative or friend of every single currently serving U.S. soldier is in the half that opposes funding cuts. So, are these friends or families of troops--these people who want them all to come home safely--are they not supporting the troops?

And in an almost perfect sense of irony, in mid-March Sen. Joe Lieberman proposed a new tax to help fund the war. Wanna take a wild guess what he called it? The "Support Our Troops Tax!" Wow, so raising taxes would have a direct effect on the well-being of the soldiers? Hmm, fascinating!

Under Joe's plan, over the next five years $50 billion would be raised annually to solely be used to pay for defense and benefits and services to both veterans and currently serving men and women. Joe referred to his plan as a "shared sacrifice."

Ever notice that we as citizens have yet to be asked to sacrifice anything in this war?

"It's my way of making a larger point that our military went to war but our nation didn't go to war," he said. No, Joe, just one man went to war...one naive, self-centered, destructive man.

So, what's the answer? The administration doesn't seem to want anything more than Congress to keep enabling them in this war by writing blank checks, and anything that even dances near an alternative idea is going to be characterized as harming the troops. Why? Why are the concepts of "supporting the troops" and bringing the troops home mutually exclusive? I know I'm not alone in believing that wanting them home safe and sound is currently the only way to support the troops. Does Bush just not see that, or does he only care about his precious legacy?

"If Congress fails to pass a bill to fund our troops on the front lines, the American people will know who to hold responsible," Bush said at that National Cattlemen's Beef Association meeting.

Junior, we already know whom to hold responsible, and your days are numbered.


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"But just saying you're patriotic is like saying you have a big cock. If you have to say it, chances are it's not true."
Bill Maher

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