Eric Alterman writes of the misconception that conservatives revere and support the military while liberals largely disdain it. In the article, he contrasts public declarations of support with the realities of substandard care for returning Iraq and Afghanistan veterans. In particular, he focuses on the increase brain injuries and PTSD and the shockingly high suicide rates that accompany them. According to the director of the National Institute of Mental Health, “It’s quite possible that the suicides and psychiatric mortality of this war could trump the combat deaths.”
Alterman cites one of the areas that exemplifies the attitude of the Bush Administration toward the military: That it is cheap labor there to be exploited. This was evident from the onset of the Iraq war, as stories of inadequately armored vehicles and protected soldiers emerged, only to draw Donald Rumsfeld's snide comment about going to war with the army you had. Next, came the extended deployments and continuing deployments, all stretching the capacity of the military to the breaking. And yet, as Alterman points out, Republicans remain unwilling to adequately fund mental health care for returning veterans. In fact, they're reluctant to admit that a problem even exists. ("Is this something we should address ourselves in some sort of release before someone stumbles on it?")
As Alterman writes, the men and women on the receiving end aren't fools. John McCain knows it, too. Why else add Tim Griffin, the scandal-ridden, would-be U.S. Attorney to his campaign? Is it because Griffin is a master of the illegal practice of vote caging, which he has used to deny active-duty soldiers their right to vote?
Vote caging is an illegal practice designed by Republican operatives to hold down turnout from Democratic constituencies. Bulk mail is sent to addresses in selected zip codes with the instruction that is not to be forwarded. When the postal service returns the mail of, say, students, homeless people, or black veterans on active duty, the Republicans attempt to use it as evidence of fraud in order to have the voters stricken from the voting rolls. (Elected officials in some states, of course, are more sympathetic to this argument than others.) Could it be that John McCain is prepared to disenfranchise the very men and women he claims to champion the most?
Citizen K. Read:
Little Criminals, Gene Kerrigan