Friday, May 23, 2008

Thanks to Tiffany and Donna for their comments on my last post.  As I read them an image of a commercial I find particularly irritating came to mind: the Comcast commercials with variations on the 'more, more, more' theme.  And immediately after another image this time from the remake of 'Sabrina' starring Harrison Ford.  Sabrina asks Linus what photos he wants her to take of his beach house.  He tells her 'everything.' She tells him 'more isn't always better.  Sometimes it is just. . . more.'  We have been trained to think that more is automatically better; more features, more power, more education, more things.  When we discover that 'it just ain't so,' our world is shaken and we have to find a new measure by which to value ourselves and determine our level of success or failure.  

Marian at Elderwoman posted a piece on 'gabbling,'  that is the tendency callers have of speaking very fast and incoherently when leaving a message in voice mail on on answering machines.  It struck a chord with both of us here when I read it yesterday (5/23).  This morning I thought about it again as mom and I listened to the news while drinking our morning coffee.  At one point Mom looked confused and asked I she had heard the teaser for the upcoming story  correctly because what she heard did not make any sense.  The story was repeated  and she had mistaken the word used.  It sounded very similar to what she thought it was.  This has been happening to us both a lot over the last several years.  But this morning, perhaps because Marian's blog was still in the back of my mind, I noticed how fast the reader was speaking.  She zipped through the stories at light speed and often we were not sure what exactly she had just said.  But we also noticed that the fluff  pieces and the latest installment of the current scandal  were presented in detail at a MUCH slower piece.  A confirmation, as if any were needed, of where the mainstream media place their priorities. 

The news media hasn't given much coverage to the bill to grant more generous GI Bill education benefits for those serving in the post 9/11 era.  I did hear that the "Commander in Chief" opposes it as does the presumptive Republican candidate to succeed him.  What I couldn't believe was the reason: that more generous benefits would discourage military personnel from reenlisting. I thought I had heard wrong.  Evidently not.  Here is confirmation from the Salon by way of Americablog.

"Bush, McCain and the others who've opposed Webb's bill argue that the expanded provisions -- the government would pay tuition and expenses at a four-year public university for anyone who spent three years in the military after 9/11 -- will hurt the military's efforts to retain its troops. Bush has threatened to veto Webb's bill, and McCain introduced one of his own." (my emphasis)

Obama criticized both the threatened veto and the rational forcing McCain to claim that Obama was spouting off about things he knows nothing about and impugning his (McCain's) honor as a veteran when Obama hasn't served in the armed forces.  Well, as one who has served I am also bewildered.  Perhaps we should go back to the ancient Roman tradition: offer those who survived a thirty year term a plot of land as a retirement bonus and place it in an out of the way corner of the empire.  They used Germany and Gaul to settle their retired soldiers. We could use Afghanistan and Iraq.  Maybe we should take a page out of British history and send out impressment gangs to remove the undesirables littering our cities.  

A related piece in the news over the Memorial Day weekend that irritated me more than I can politely express was the plans to include on tax returns a check-off box for those who want to donate to a fund to help military families cope with the financial strain service imposes.  I am still so pissed off with this notion.  I saw the Lt. Governor of Illinois assuring everyone that military families did not want charity this was not charity.  Bull-f***ing-s**t.  Almost two generations ago critics of President Johnson's War on Poverty claimed that he declared a war and funded a skirmish.  Today, we have something similar.  We have a government that lavishly squanders billions on waste, corruption, inefficiency and cannot (will not??) provide adequate pay, health care or other needs.  That opposes expanded education benefits for veterans of THEIR war because that would encourage people to leave the service instead of re-enlisting.  But then I forgot that the men and women who serve are not related to the Bush or Cheney families.  Most do not own stock in Haliburton or Exxon.  They are from poor neighborhoods in cities, from small towns and rural areas where economic opportunities are sparse and military service offer a possibility of improving their prospects.  They are not the Republican constituency.  

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