25 April 2006

Random news blurbs and ranting

On NPR's hourly roundup of the news headlines, I heard two things this morning that really pissed me off. Warning: angry young woman ranting to follow.

The first was the president announcing that he's forming a commission to investigate if gas prices have been jacked up illegally. Would someone PLEASE remind Mr. Bush that when you CUT FUNDING TO ALTERNATIVE FUEL SOURCE RESEARCH, you're going to have higher gas prices. Oh, wait, I forgot, he's surrounded himself with former oil industry executives who are not going to tell him that. Silly me. But until we vastly improve public transportation in this country, and until the average American stops looking at a giant SUV and thinking, “Cool!”, we’re going to have high gas prices.

The second was a blurb about the Canadian flag. The reporter said that the new PM in Canada, Stephen Harper, has decided that flags will not fly at half-staff when a Canadian soldier is killed in Iraq or Afghanistan, and that reporters have been banned from photographing the caskets of the deceased at the airport as they come off of the airplane in Ottawa. The former PM had personally greeted the planes and been on hand as the honor guard offloaded the caskets.

Here's the thing: I count on Canada to NOT take lessons from us in stupidity. The Bush administration banned photographs at Andrews Air Force Base quite some time ago because presumably, the American public would be all up in arms if they realized how many 19 year olds are dying every day in a war that has been senseless from the get go. I think that the Canadian public has the right to see the caskets, just as the American public should be allowed to, and the current regime’s practice of stonewalling the media makes me sick.

Hey, how ‘bout that, a Google search turns up an editorial in the Toronto Star about this. Doncha love Google? Of course I don’t agree with their stand on the issue, but that’s OK.

I don't actually know if there are federal regs here in the United States for flying flags at half-staff. I remember that after September 11, the flags everywhere were at half staff, and there was an announcement at some point that it was time to put them back up, but if we were lowering them every time a US soldier was killed in either Afghanistan or Iraq, they would never be at full staff because an American soldier dies every damn day.

Which is the root of my anger and the whole problem. It makes me really angry that the vast majority of enlisted troops are kids who haven't had the greatest of economic advantages and join the army for the GI Bill's benefits, because recruiters call them and say things like, "Do you know the army will give you $50,000 for college?" And I know that b/c they did it to me. The recruiter that called me my senior year of high school was probably pretty surprised when I read him the riot act about how much I disliked the military, although I'm sure he was used to getting crap from kids. I remember the telephone call, although I'm not sure why I do. I actually did one of those double takes that you see in the movies, pulling the telephone away from my ear, looking at it, and shaking my head in disbelief. The guy had my school file!!! I was pissed about that. He told me that the army would love to have someone with my grades...and when I asked him who the hell had given him permission to go through my "permanent record", he told me the school had. I told him that he didn't have the complete record...because it didn't say anything in there about my ardent feminism. There was a pause on the line. Then, when he tried again to get me excited about the army, I finally said, "Are you kidding me? Is this a joke? Who put you up to this, my uncle?" No, no, he assured me, he was calling everyone in my class who had a 3.0 or better. “Well”, I told him, “cross me off your list and tell all your recruiter buddies to not bother wasting their time. I don't like the military, and think it will be a great day when my school can afford a properly equipped science lab and you guys have to hold a bake sale for a fighter jet. Please don’t call me again.” Then I hung up.

Advancing age has given me a bit more wisdom, and I don’t “hate” the military anymore, not by a long shot. I now realize that many kids graduating high school don’t have many other options, and I was really lucky to be able to traipse off to college and do exactly what I wanted to for 5 & ½ years. And in my professional life, the ex-military folk I’ve encountered are highly organized, efficient, and at the top of their game, so there’s definitely something to be said for that military training. It isn’t the “fault” of the average solider that the powers that be send them off to war, and I think by and large, we ought to show support for the average G.I., even if we don’t agree about where they are and what they’re doing. The folks who get the majority of my ire these days are Donald Rumsfeld and Condee Rice, not to mention W.

Finally, I put an ad on my blog a couple of days ago because I really liked it. If you haven't noticed, it is from NARAL, and lists the number of days, hours, and minutes and seconds that the FDA has delayed approving the morning-after pill as an over the counter med. Check NARAL for more info.

Soundtrack: "Revolution" by The Beatles

1 comment:

Aunty Marianne said...

Belgium is a Catholic country, but I still got the morning pill over the counter when a condom broke some time ago.

Sheesh.