Monday, November 07, 2011

Fighting words

A couple of events this week are worth noting, I suppose, as another winter of fear and loathing and discontent moves in on us --- a vote in Iowa Senate District 18 that has the potential to even the partisan balance in the Iowa Senate at 25 each and that curious holiday on Friday that is intended to honor military veterans.

The first gives Republicans a better chance at amending the Iowa Constitution to outlaw same-sex marriage; the second offers a vacation day for many, most of them not veterans.


The contest in District 18 (Marion, a fragment of Cedar Rapids, other parts of Linn County) matches Democrat Liz Mathis against Republican Cindy Golding in the race to fill a vacancy created when Republican Gov. Terry Branstad, in a clever political move, appointed the Democrat incumbent, Swati Dandekar, to the Iowa Utilities Board, thus requiring her resignation.

Should Golding win and Republicans manage to pull a Senate Democrat over to their side, which seems possible, that constitutional amendment could be approved during the current session. If approved during the next session, too, it would then reach Iowa voters in the following general election.

Golding’s pitches have included the contention that if she’s elected and Iowans just get a chance to vote on that amendment, then the Legislature can move on to issues like jobs creation and economic recovery. Apparently, the GOP is incapable of dealing with those issues without the marriage amendment. Curious although not surprising.

 I'm tempted to say that several of the sandstone blocks that form the great walls of our wonderful old capitol building have higher IQs than that of the collective Republican caucus, so no wonder its attention span is limited. Saying that, however, would be rude --- and I’m in a conciliatory mood this morning, so won’t.

What actually will happen, if the amendment advances, is that more years of rancorous debate and foolish expenditure will follow. Then, if an amendment passes, the move to pass another amendment to repeal that admendment will begin. Ho hum.


I see Hy-Vee is offering a free breakfast to veterans on Friday, but I don’t think I’m going to polish up my dog tags and go. Still it’s a nice gesture --- although from a public relations standpoint a purely win-win strategy. Feeding veterans I’m sure generates all sorts of warm and fuzzy feelings. And I’m all in favor of honoring and recognizing veterans for their service.

And, golly, I could even carry my little rainbow flag this year since Don’t Ask Don’t Tell is now a thing of the past (although Republican political types remain anxious to reinstitute it and kick us faggots out).

Oh heck, it’s simpler just to eat my own cereal.

It’s not clear to me, beyond breakfast, how many non-veterans actually will think a little about veterans on their additional day off or bother to move beyond irritation when they’re inconvenienced by the fact the Post Office and some government offices, banks and the like are closed.

It’s all very well to wave flags and hug veterans, then kick back and relax, but also useful to remember that engaging in war, in addition to killing many, fucks more up --- physically, mentally and spiritually, shatters families, destroys lives.

The Department of Veterans Affairs estimates, for example, that on any given night 130,000 or so veterans are homeless; that one out of every three homeless persons is a veteran. Others place the guesstimate higher. By some accountings, a U.S. veteran commits suicide every 80 minutes, far out of proportion to our percentage of the population in general.

Veterans hospitals and rehabilitation centers are full of casualties from previous wars and an entirely new generation of the wounded, who because of “advanced” warfare techniques have survived injuries that would have killed in earlier wars.

Beyond that, it’s not clear that we’re prepared to deal with a new generation of veterans set adrift when the inevitable military downsizing occurs.

Many veterans, I suppose, would pass on a free meal in return for some assurance that the nation they served will keep its promises to those damaged by war and be a little more careful about just cause before sending young men and women off to fight and die the next time the temptation arises.

1 comment:

Martin said...

As a veteran myself, I agree with your comments about Friday, no free breakfast for me.

Martin Buck US Navy