Pardon me, as a geezer and a Regular Army veteran, while I rant a bit. Rant about the despicable men and women who govern us in the Congress and White House today — every one of them, Republican, Democrat and Independent.
For a long, long time I have been sorely disappointed about the quality of leadership we have elected in this country. But the debate over closing down the government recently sent me over the edge.
I’m disgusted that a group of grownups, acting like spoiled children, would use the same military they have benignly deployed to fight wars of little or no importance to our national defense. Using them as pawns in an endless, and pointless, debate over their spending policies is about as low as an earthworm can stoop.
I’ll dip back into my personal history as a journalist who spent a good part of his career studying and writing about economics. First, good news, my fellow senior citizens over 55 are off the hook. If you are over 55 there is little these same elected mental pre-pubescents can do to damage whatever government benefits we are currently receiving. We are pretty safe from their malingering. Those behind us face a different world.
As I reached draft age in the 1950s, there was little choice other than to figure out a way to meet one’s eight-year military obligation. I chose the Regular Army and volunteered rather than waiting to be drafted. Being a part of the Regular Army required at least an extra year of active duty; as opposed to being drafted and serving as an Enlisted Reserve or completing an Officers Training Course and becoming a part of the Reserve Officers Corps.
But, that extra time bought one the privilege of better schooling and better jobs while on active military duty – much the same as our all-volunteer military today.
I did three years of active duty and five years of inactive service as an intelligence analyst in the old Army Security Agency — a military component that answered directly to the Joint Chiefs of Staff outside the regular Army chain of command — and one that was important in building today’s National Security Agency. After training stateside I served over two years on a single tour assigned to the Pacific Theater.
Never once did I doubt my miniscule paycheck would be there on payday. Never once did I question the fact that what I was doing was an important part of maintaining the freedoms that our Constitution guarantees all citizens.
But watching the shenanigans that went on in Washington as the debate to avoid closing down the government went on behind closed doors — and the media’s endless hyping of one aspect of it or another — made me begin to wonder. Is this is the same country that I once served as a part of its military?
Listening to the repeated abuse poured upon our current military, our troops serving on overseas duty assignments in various war zones, and upon their families trying to make ends meet in their absence, as a ploy for one party or the other to achieve whatever clearly unexplainable goal they seek, sent me over the edge.
Not a single Congress member or member of the White House staff was going to forfeit a single paycheck if the government closed down — but the military would be without pay the day the hammer fell.
Who could conceive of ordering young men and women into combat and harm’s way while denying them their promised pay? Only a bunch of juvenile-minded driveling idiots who have become so accustomed to living an imperial lifestyle on money extracted from the citizenry could be so emboldened.
Dragging out almost ad infinitum a debate over the spending or not spending of $7 billion dollars — hardly a gnat on an elephant’s butt when compared to the runaway spending our government leaders have presided over — was a political ploy of monstrous proportions from an administration and Congress that pretends to have a patriotic duty to uphold our Constitution.
I’m sick and tired of this use of “Patriot” among our national leaders and media pundits as a means of describing how they have our best interests at heart as they babble on endlessly about “saving” our country.
Morris Davis, a former Chief Prosecutor for the Military Commissions at Guantanamo Bay, best described them as “Patriots In Name Only,” or PINOs when he said:
“As a military veteran who spent a quarter-century in uniform, I take offense when people like Beck, Palin, Limbaugh, Hannity, O’Reilly, Gingrich, Cheney (Dick and Liz), Rove, Malkin, Coulter, and Dick Morris — a dozen chest thumping right wing war hawks who’ve amassed personal fortunes wrapping themselves in the patriot banner and stoking the anger of the base with their ‘you’re either with us or against us’ blather, but who felt they had more important things to do when each of them had the opportunity to serve in the nation’s armed forces – imply that veterans who answered the call of duty but don’t ascribe to their hateful fear-based ideology are unpatriotic and something other than ‘real Americans’.”
“It’s disappointing, too, that so many ordinary Americans are drawn to these PINOs (Patriots In Name Only) like mosquitoes to the alluring blue light in a bug zapper. There are patriots of all stripes who love this country. No one, and no one ideology, has the right to treat the word like it’s theirs exclusively.”
There are just as many PINOs on the “liberal” or “progressive” side of the ledger as there are “conservatives”. They just have never been able to master the broadcast media and bring it under their thumb. So they lurk in the shadows of government agencies and academia, and silently manipulate polls and studies that advance their cause, all with the quiet approval of an administration that promised more transparency than ever before in government, while doing its best to keep us all in the dark.
I favor no existing politician or appointed top government administrator. They have united in reaching a low level of despicability that I thought previously impossible. No one in office today will ever again get my vote, maybe a small and insignificant gesture, but I have reached the end of my tolerance of this carnival in our nation’s capital.
Dave Whitney is a retired journalist and adventurer who has won many writing awards. He was born and raised in central Ohio, attended school in Missouri, served in the US Army Security Agency, and migrated to Florida a half century ago. Author of four books, he is a former Associated Press writer/editor and has been nominated three times for the Pulitzer Prize during his writing career. As editor and founder of the Free Press newspapers in the Florida Keys he was the first publisher to pick up Frank Kaiser’s “Suddenly Senior” column when it entered syndication. Whitney currently resides in Lakeland, Fla., after living 25 years in the Florida Keys.
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