Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Military Thug Life

Between September 2006 and 2007 the US Army granted "conduct" waivers for misdemeanors and felonies to 18% of new recruits. New Pentagon statistics show that the numbers have more than doubled in a year. Rep. Henry Waxman (D-CA), Chairman of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, released the statistics yesterday and says that "the significant increase in the recruitment of persons with criminal records is a result of the strain put on the military by the Iraq War." Waivers have been given to recruits convicted of burglary, grand larceny, kidnapping, making terrorist threats, rape/sexual abuse, and indecent acts or liberties with a child.

What's next, a recruiting office in San Quentin?


Tuesday, April 8, 2008

Iraq: The Idea War

I've been watching a live feed on CNN.com of Ambassador Crocker and Gen. Petraeus being grilled about the current situation in Iraq by our Senate. The questions they must answer are not easy ones. Gen. Petraeus is fielding most of the security concerns and Amb. Crocker is handling the issues of Iraq's economy and internal political situation. In the middle of a conversation on the strengthening of Iraqi currency and 7% projected economic growth over the next year and just when I am beginning to compare that to our own falling dollar and shuddering economy, the shot cuts to President Bush, his head bowed in prayer, at a Medal of Honor Ceremony for a Navy SEAL who jumped on a grenade to save his friends.

This is George Bush's statement for the Iraq hearings, a statement about patriotism. To me, it is a reminder of my friend, also a Navy SEAL, who died a few years ago in Afghanistan. It is a reminder of the friends I went to Iraq with in 2003, and what it was like to have brothers in uniform. President Bush starts speaking - is he tearing up? It looks genuine. I think about who let this war happen, now that we all know it was a bad idea. It wasn't Pres. Bush's idea, but he pulled the trigger. For a moment, I wonder if he feels guilty. He's still human, after all, and he's reading a Medal of Honor citation for man who died doing something so honorable, while fighting a war that at best is somebody else's responsibility, and at worst is a frightening example of the power of special interests.