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Posted by aaron at 01:01PM, Tuesday, December 09th, 2003

One more thing

Among all the hoopla surrounding the "revelation" that Bush failed to serve his country even in the impossible-to-get-into-for-mortals Air National Guard unit he was assigned to after blatant string-pulling by his family, there's an important piece of context we should remember.

The person who brought this point home was my mother, who, while at UMass Amherst in the late 60s, remembers friends lucky enough to be in the National Guard, who, she says, "moved heaven and earth" to get to their monthly training and not be instantly called up into active service, like some of her other friends. The point she raises is that someone else went to Viet Nam in dumbya's place. There's a good chance that person died; at the very least, like my father, he suffered through a year of hell overseas, after months of training, then came home to more months of degrading, low-paid service in the U.S., before being freed to go start a family, thinking he was healthy. Like thousands of other vets, that's what my Dad did. He didn't think much of the asthma he got out of nowhere a couple years after coming home. We didn't think much of the asthma that my sister developed when she was little. We did start wondering when doctors diagnosed me with insulin-dependent diabetes, although there's no family history. By the time I got the fourth auto-immune disease of which my family has no history, we'd pretty much all agreed my Dad's very close exposure to Agent Orange was a likely cause. The kids of vets who were exposed have rates of these kinds of diseases much higher than just statistically significant. Who knows what that will mean for my sister's family. It means, among other things, that I'd be a selfish fool to try to inflict my genes on another generation.

The point is, karma being what it is, someone paid for our President's youthful... ahem... "indiscretions." So far, it wasn't he; whoever it was may have paid with his life. More troubling, it may be his children or theirs who paid, or are still paying. Somehow, I doubt the Bush twins wake up every morning and thank providence that it's not they who experience the joys of Crohn's disease and potential liver failure. The media's failure to hold Bush accountable for this, for failing to reap what men like his father and the ideological marvels of the privileged fascist right had sowed, is unforgivable.

Also unforgivable is their failure to examine the contextual implications: what does this mean in terms of our commander in chief? Clinton was more or less open about his ideological problems with the Viet Nam war. He didn't go, because he disagreed with it, not in spite of supporting it. We might hope that his anti-war stance had something to do with his decisions to go to war, or not, as president. Senator Kerry served in the war, and came back having changed his mind about it. Again, ideological consistency -- at least as compared with Mr Bush's I'm-for-war-but-hell-no-I-won't-go-but-that-won't-stop-me-starting-them-or-lying-to-say-I-served-in-the-air-force nonsense. Like everything else he does which illustrates it, this evidence of the Fascist Right's deep-seated hypocrisy should be deeply troubling to anyone who values integrity and truth in government.

This administration has demonstrated it's more than willing to send other people's children to die in wars for corporate profit. It's demonstrated that it's willing to lie about war and service and disparage honorable men, and the media have helped it along the way. I still feel they should start asking not only about the more than one thousand Americans dead in Iraq already, but the fates of those that come home alive, and their children. We know what the ghastly inventions of the makers of war machinery did to the genes of soldiers like my father; we're starting to have some idea of the impact of depleted uranium on vets of the first Gulf War; how many unspeaken, un-remarked-upon victims does W's ceaseless, senseless, illegal war need before we start demanding accountability of those too hypocritical to serve, themselves?

But it's easier not to look at what you don't want to, and apply to those who do labels like traitor and unamerican and unpatriotic. It's easier to pretend political decisions exist in a vacuum, and don't effect the lives, and deaths, of real people. I don't see W or his children injecting themselves with insulin twice a day, and having to rotate injection sites on their bodies, to avoid lipid build-up and the uncontrollable blood glucose levels which result. I don't see them agonizing about where to put the new injections sites, since they have too little fat to do this comfortably, what with the intenstinal and liver conditions which prevent amassing body fat. I don't see them panicking about the asthma that wakes them up in the middle of the night, unable to breathe. I don't see them suffering from nine-inch-long liver biopsy needles that vacuum up a couple grams of tissue, so that lab techs can check whether it's still functional. I don't see them worrying that their spouses, unrecognized by the Federal government, might not be allowed to make medical decisions for them, should they suffer a hypoglycemic reaction as a result of diabetes, or a diabetic coma, or liver failure. I don't see them worrying that they should perhaps get off their hypocritical high-horse and legalize medical marijuana so that people like me can treat the chronic arthritis resulting from Crohn's disease without side-effect-laden pharmeceuticals. But if there is a just and ironic afterlife in the Christian sense, these things, and more, will await them there.

In this world, at least, I ask anyone who would vote for Bush to consider these real-life effects of his party's policies. You can pretend they don't exist, but that doesn't make them go away -- at least, not for me.
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