Sometimes an old buddy of mine and I digress and descend to debate the inequities in the human race. You know, trying to make sense out of paradox. Neither of us has ever denied that great Orwellian proclamation: “Some animals are more equal than others.” Yet even though the speaker was a pig (as is the case with most dictators and self-declared Deciders) the truth of the matter is that it is hard to argue the point. If you are the ruler in charge (or even his brother-in-law sometimes), the Decider, the one who gets to write the rules and how history is determined by he who counts the votes (Joseph Stalin), then “Might is (after all) Right.” Right? So what else is new? So what about truth? Truth? Yeah, I know. Truth has changed from every year we have lived on the planet to a bloated platitude of whatever someone or a government says truth is (Just ask good old Joseph Goebbels or Karl Rove).
To avoid further confusion and sinking into the deep hole of paid-for talking points, let me get off this quagmire heap and tell you about our discussion the other day. Like two dogs worrying the same bone we hashed, rehashed, and even pontificated on high matters in the annals of human nature. We blasted religion for robbing mankind in order to save its collective soul. After all the price was cheap when immortality and living forever was the human prize. After deciding that most (all) religions, in general, were self-serving and not in the best interest of their followers, we remained in perpetual tail-chasing position of ending up in the same damned swamp and muck of misunderstanding we started in. Alas, we had agreed and disagreed. We gave new meaning to the notion that the older one gets the less he really knows. And in these dumbing-down days where intellect and reason have been trumped by what sounds good and right on talking head TV commercials, we have found our new Oracle. On how to vote, how to feel, and what candidate you would like to have a beer with. And so it goes. Check it out on Fox News.
But in traversing the general to the finite we come our very own and newest discovery: the VA Scandal of present. We just became aware that the VA has been abusing Veterans. For example, how many red-blooded Americans are angry about abuses that would set the VA is under such scrutiny in May of 2014? Show of hands. Lots I would guess. More than 80% perhaps?
Let me say that I am a combat Veteran who served in Viet Nam, and I for one am outraged that any Veteran would or could be abused in any way whatsoever.
General Colin Powell said in his book, My American Journey that the inequities in the American draft system occurred because policy allowed “fortunate sons” to evade the draft while those of lower birth could not. Enter George W. Bush. But that was before Powell became Secretary of State and was in lockstep with Bush White House policy.
On page 148 of his own autobiographical book, Powell stated: "I particularly condemn the way our political leaders supplied the manpower for that war," he wrote. "The policies -- determining who would be drafted and who would be deferred, who would serve and who would escape, who would die and who would live -- were an anti-democratic disgrace. I am angry that so many sons of the powerful and well placed and so many professional athletes (who were probably healthier than any of us) managed to wangle slots in Reserve and National Guard units. Of the many tragedies of Vietnam, this raw class discrimination strikes me as the most damaging to the ideal that all Americans are created equal and owe equal allegiance to our country."
Amen, General. I am angry, too. But when called out in a televised House hearing by Congressman Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio) Powell balked on what he had written in his book. His feelings of honor and all as a general had morphed. Now his newer position as Secretary of State under George W. Bush caused Powell to speak out of the other side of his mouth. Powell came apart at the seams. He stonewalled Congressman Brown. Acted Koo Koo for Ko Ko Puffs on camera. Never answered the question. Flat out refused. Powell-1 American People-0.
Powell, visibly miffed, said: "Let's not go there," Secretary of State Powell said this pompously three times after Rep. Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio) raised the ongoing question over President Bush’s military service at a House hearing. When Brown suggested that Bush "may have been AWOL" from National Guard duty in both Texas and Alabama under several commanding officers, Powell snapped: "I won't dignify your comments about the president because you don't know what you are talking about." No shit? But we the American people knew. We voters knew. We knew. Powell was now serving Bush who had been getting years of well-documented heat from the press about his going AWOL during the Viet Nam War. Funny, but Powell refused to answer the Congressman. Wouldn’t you think, General that a public servant such as yourself owed us, the American voters, an answer? Full disclosure and all? Not an arrogant tap dance that said nothing to nobody? Surely General you have chaired many a courts-martials where the evidence was much less substantial than that which questioned Bush’s honor and truthfulness both before and after he became president.
On camera it sounded like Powell was saying, “I am a big shot, and I am going to choose to withhold information from you because I know what I am talking about. And you are not as important and powerful as I am. So I get to say that you do NOT know what you are talking about and don’t deserve an answer. Oh, and forget the reality that I am contradicting the CORE beliefs I expressed in my book that rich kids, the favored ones like George W. Bush, through family and political contacts were able to beat the draft and avoid the war, to wit, combat duty in Viet Nam. And my reason for withholding is that you, sir, do not know what you are talking about!” So enlighten us, General. Why not come clean and say something fancy about the greater good or some other insufficient garbage reason to cover your mercenary, waffling ass?
Again, I do agree with what Colin Powell wrote in his book about himself. What he wrote in his book is honorable. His refusal to answer the Congressman and the people of the United States is not. But, what can you do, like that was before he decided to accept a position in George W. Bush’s Cabinet as Secretary of State. How bothersome and haunting it must be to have your past revisit you, especially in an autobiography you wrote before you became “politically (in)correct” and a White House White Hat (Bush’s bitch). It must have been hell to serve a president who had been dogged for years by the press (L.A. Times, Boston Globe, and the New York Times about going AWOL). Knowing that the things you believed in another time and place could leap out and cause so much pain for an American General who holds ‘honor’ so dear. Or so he says.
My, my General Bobby Hodges from the Texas Air Guard, Bush’s Texas Air Guard Commander, had said that he never saw Bush after his failure to report for his flight physical back during during Bush’s mysterious disappearance from his contract to serve in the Texas Air Guard as a pilot. “Hell, if I had seen him at Ellington [AFB], I would have had him flying the F-102’s” But Bush refused to take his required and mandatory flight physical. Right before he disappeared from the radar screen. No Bush.
There was another general in Alabama who never recalled seeing Bush who had managed to secure a TDY assignment to the Alabama Air Guard. The commanding general of the Alabama Air Guard was General William Turnipseed who had done his flight training in Corpus Christi, Texas. See, Bush had pulled some strings to get temporary duty under General Turnipseed in the Alabama Air Guard so that Bush could help campaign for a family friend William Blount in a U.S. Senate race. The General had said: “If there was a pilot from Texas assigned to my command I would have known. See, I did my flight training in Corpus Christi.” I do not recall a George W. Bush assigned to my command in Alabama.”
Later, after all the big fuss was made about Bush going AWOL, the General recanted: http://www.nbcnews.com/id/4242877/ns/politics/t/alabama-commander-regrets-bush-comments/#.U4oU1vldVK0 who was running for Senate.
What a hot seat for Colin Powell to have to answer to, yet he did in the same arrogant tone that his soon to be leader George W. Bush made famous.
But I will make a case for why we should have been appropriately outraged at ALL Veteran abuses, many that happened right under our noses when at the time we didn’t even manage a collective yawn. This was before George W. Bush arbitrarily attacked Iraq and gave them (and the American people, shock and awe and thousands of deaths.” It was the year 2003, perhaps the most wanton and disgraceful abuse of veterans as well as the Americans who have to trust our leaders in all our history. It will be discussed in Part II next month. There we will see why the all-of-a-sudden response to VA abuses is symptomatic of he larger cancer in our leaders who just don’t give a shit and will use and abuse VA funds at the drop of a hat because they know, too that the American people don’t give a shit, either. So everybody who feels a pang of outrage coming on just know that Pogo Possum was right. And it’s high time we started holding ourselves accountable for the high crimes of allowing our leaders to screw our Veterans because they can get away with it. And they can because the American people will not stand up for veterans until it becomes too late.