Militar6y Rooster

August 2005


The majority leadership in the Senate has removed the Defense Appropriations Bill from floor debate, citing that it is inappropriate to debate a defense bill in war time. Anybody got a problem with not examining a $500 billion dollar expenditure by the government?

The proposed defense appropriation bill for next year is more than $500 billion. This is a substantial increase from last year, when we were already spending more than all the other countries on earth combined on defense.

Two very interesting things happened after this bill hit the Senate floor. First, it was withdrawn from debate by the Senate majority leadership because, according to Mr. Frist, it is inappropriate to debate a defense bill during wartime.

I beg your pardon? Aside from the Orwellian sense, with whom are we at war presently? Afghanistan is supposed to have been quelled, and the mission in Iraq was "accomplished" many moons ago. If it's terrorism we're supposedly at war with, does this mean that any defense appropriation is now and forevermore inviolate and must be approved without discussion? That is certainly a vote for fiscal irresponsibility if there ever was one (as has been well documented in past defense appropriations).

Secondly, Vice President Cheney told the Senate that the president (his alleged boss George W.) would veto any defense appropriations bill that includes language that prohibits our military from engaging in torture and inhumane (as defined by the Geneva Conventions) treatment of prisoners. Just why the president would say such a thing is a mystery to me. Presumably, it is because of his great store of moral values that he feels our military deserves a free hand to torture and maim detainees in the name of national security.

The proposed amendment, asking the armed services to obey their own rules, was authored by Republican Sen. John McCain of Arizona. McCain knows first-hand about the treatment of prisoners, since he himself was incarcerated by the North Vietnamese for several years. If he says there is no justification for, nor utility gained through, torture, I am willing to believe that he knows what he is talking about. Certainly there is no moral position one can take to the maltreatment of prisoners except against it.

But what really makes me furious with the country, as well as the Republican leadership in the Senate and the White House, is that people are not angry about this. The prevailing attitude is apathy and fatality. Have we become so many Russian peasants, for whom Washington is so high above and so far away that we accept our powerlessness and try to make do on the crumbs they leave us? What happened to the theory of the nation as people, and the government as servant of the people? Most governments will take a mile if you give them an inch, and it is the responsibility of every citizen to meddle in the business of government "thus far, and no further" whenever it is appropriate (which is often).

Our nation is founded upon the principle that leaders have a responsibility to rule in our best interests and not their own. Down through the decades, this principle has been used in rhetoric a lot more than it was used in practice. We need to reform our government so that it ceases to treat us like developmentally challenged children who must be controlled and managed for their own good. We need to demand a government that works in partnership with us to create a future we can all be proud of. We cannot accept a government with officials that operate based on the theory that they will be rich and retired before all the problems they created and ignored come home to roost.

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