Monday, May 30, 2005

Preventing outrage fatigue

I read a piece today by a man named Charles Grist. From what I read he sounds like a guy whom I’d agree with 364 days a year, but there was something about this piece that sort of rubbed me the wrong way. It was written about Bill Maher’s most recent moronic comments, or at least his most recent moronic comments that someone actually heard and paid attention to.

Jane Fonda's despicable behavior in North Vietnam was the act of a traitor. She can apologize all she wants, now (so that people will see her latest movie or buy her book), but those of us who served in Vietnam will not forget what she did, or forget how our prisoners of war suffered because of her actions.

Now, we have some new Hollywood military experts. The latest is comedian Bill Maher, who made a fool out of himself after Sept. 11, 2001, by arguing that the terrorists weren't cowards when they flew airplanes into our neighbors. He apologized for that remark, but now he is at it again.

On the May 13 broadcast of HBO's Real Time With Bill Maher, he referred to the Army's recruiting difficulties by saying that "we've done picked all the low-lying Lynndie England fruit, and now we need warm bodies." This comment does a great disservice to the brave members of all the military services.

Maher's lack of common sense is comparable to Sean Penn's pre-war visit to his buddy, Saddam Hussein. These guys are hungry for publicity in any form, and honestly believe that their celebrity status makes them experts in world affairs. These two "famous" men are probably not capable of understanding the level of sacrifice it takes for a man or woman to enlist, train under unbelievably difficult circumstances, and go thousands of miles away to fight for their country.

Yes, Bill Maher is a dipshit, but we really need to settle down with the daily outrage. As execrable as Mr. Maher is, I don’t think he meant to imply that all of our soldiers are of the same class as the magnificent stereotype embodied in PVT England. There are plenty of really despicable people out there who, at best, believe our men and women in uniform are clueless dupes; victims to be pitied who wouldn’t be there if our society were just a bit more egalitarian. What I would say to Mr. Grist is conserve your outrage. It’s a target rich environment

Update: Just when I thought maybe the right was too quick to become outraged I saw this. This guy is all a twitter because someone was drinking some brand of bottled water in an ad that Arnold Schwartzenegger did. He thinks it's product placement. I can't even tell what brand it is.

Saturday, May 28, 2005

Koran Flushing

Does the military having the ability to flush BOOKS down their toilets have any correlation to the famed $500 toilet seats? I mean, in retrospect, if I knew that they were getting toilets with those kind of capabilities all the outrage at the expense was a tad overblown.

Navy, Air Force
spare-parts crisis [Free Republic]

... The report said the Defense
Department's current spare parts inventory is ... people in the Balkans, there's
not any left over for $500 toilet seats. - 46k - Cached
- Similar pages
Protecting Our
Homeland...and Making Money

... with the Defense Department and other
involved Homeland Security agencies. ... $100 hammers or $500 toilet seats
because there weren't enough companies,4621,303378,00.html - 50k - Cached
- Similar pages
Protecting Our Homeland...and Making Money

... of facility maintenance
items for the Defense Department (everything from ... $100 hammers or $500
toilet seats because there weren't enough companies print/0,2361,303378,00.html - 9k - Cached

Photo Ops

Today I watched the History Channel’s Mail Call special with R. Lee Ermey on Iwo Jima. They showed all of the magnificent footage of the battle that was shot by the marine cameramen and others who were present at the battle, including the historic footage by Sgt. Bill Genaust. Every time I see shows of this nature I’m awestruck by how hellish those fights must have been, how courageous the men who fought them were. During just this battle, 27 Medals of Honor were bestowed upon the marines and sailors involved. For perspective, there were just 81 Medals of Honor awarded to marines during all of WWII.

The Flag-raising Posted by Hello

One thing that struck me was that three of the six troops (five marines and a navy corpsman) who took part in the famous flag-raising scene were later killed in battle right there on the island. Sgt Genaust, the man who took the famous footage of the flag-raising, was himself killed when he went into a cave held by Japanese soldiers. His body was sealed up along with the Japanese inside the cave after other marines had fired their flamethrowers into the cave.

The reason this all seemed so noteworthy to me, aside from the incredible sacrifice of these good men, was that I wondered if anyone at the time or in the months after ever chided the marines for staging this event and declaring “mission accomplished” too early. The flag was raised on Mount Suribachi on the fifth day of fighting. I wonder if the political opponents of the President ever snidely kept tabs of the number of casualties that occurred after the raising of the flag. The battle raged for another month after this “staged photo op”.

I’m sure I’m not the first to make this observation and certainly not the best. It just annoys me to no end when people focus on relatively trivial matters when compared with the total stakes of what we’re dealing with and when compared with the truly incredible things that brave men do on our behalf.