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Country First, My Butt

By       Message Stuart Steinberg     Permalink
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opednews.com Headlined to H2 9/7/08

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Country First, My Ass 

I was totally revulsed over the last three nights by the main theme of the Republican convention: “Country First.” Tonight, while John McCain gives his acceptance speech, my revulsion continues unabated. The Republicans are the true patriots and the rest of us, apparently, are against our country and what it is supposed to stand for. I told my wife that I should not watch this get-together of hate-spewing, sanctimonious, nattering nabobs of negativism—my, God, I’m quoting Spiro Agnew—because I knew I would want to heave my guts at the screen. Yet, somehow, I have been compelled to watch. It was like having to watch the new “Rambo” movie, arguably the worst movie ever made, because it was so bad you had to keep watching to make sure it was really that bad.

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On Larry King, I heard Jesse Ventura refer to the Republicans and the “Country First” bilge as similar to the techniques used by Herman Goering to convince the German people that the push for war against Europe and Russia was the patriotic thing to do. It should be noted that Jesse is a former Navy SEAL and Vietnam-era veteran. Here’s what Goering actually said:

"Actually, the common people don't want war; neither in Russia nor in England nor in America, nor for that matter in Germany. That is understood. But, after all, it is the leaders of the country who determine the policy and it is always a simple matter to drag the people along, whether it is a democracy or a fascist dictatorship or a Parliament or a Communist dictatorship. ...voice or no voice, the people can always be brought to the bidding of the leaders. That is easy. All you have to do is to tell them they are being attacked, and denounce the pacifists for lack of patriotism and exposing the country to danger. It works the same way in any country."

Wow.  Holy crap, I guess Jesse is a traitor, or at least does not put his country first because he, like Obama, was against the war in Iraq from the beginning. Everything he and Goering said describes the tactics of the current leadership of the Republican Party and its candidates for President and Vice President, John McCain and Sarah Palin.

I am an Obama supporter. I support virtually every idea he has and believe that the direction he wants to take the country in is correct on every level. I was in the Army for five years, volunteered for Vietnam, served there for eighteen months, was decorated for heroism and wounded twice. I am now totally disabled because of combat-related injuries and illnesses. My entire adult life has been devoted to public service, almost exclusively working for the poor and, particularly, for my fellow veterans. Imagine my shock to learn, after watching and listening to these holier-than-thou, upper class swine, that I do not put my country first. You lowlife scumbags can kiss my ass for questioning my patriotism and doubting my commitment to making this country a better place for everyone, not just the elite and those who believe the rest of us were put here for them to exploit and deny our constitutional and God-given right to believe and act as we choose.

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Virtually all of my friends are Vietnam combat veterans and virtually all of us are Obama supporters. We know that John McCain and the Republican members of Congress have not supported expanded benefits for veterans and that clearly does not put the country first. Their claims to the contrary are false in every regard and their voting records prove this point beyond any shadow of a doubt. We are not going to sit around and let a group of lying slimedogs tell us we do not put our country first because we disagree with their theft of the Constitution, the carrying on of wars based on lies, the criminal use of politics to make personnel decisions and the fatuous claim that everything they do is not open to congressional oversight based upon a wholly discredited interpretation of the breadth of executive privilege.

And while I’m at it, I am sick and tired of hearing that John McCain was a POW, therefore a war hero, this qualifies him to lead the country, he puts the country first, blah, blah, blah, yadda, yadda, yadda. As far as I am concerned, he is no more a hero because of his POW status than the men I knew who died in Vietnam. Even less, in my opinion, because at least he made it home alive. More than that, this no more qualifies him to be president than my status as a disabled veteran or retired capital defense investigator. It is quite interesting to me how the Republicans wave the flag in our face and, yet, so many of them have never served in the military or, like George Bush and Dick Cheney, avoided service in Vietnam, or altogether, because of political clout and just plain cowardice.

Now let’s talk about the surge and the perfectly absurd claim that this is the reason that violence is down in Iraq and this is why there are fewer American soldiers and Iraqi civilians dying. This contention, raised over and over and over by John McCain, traitors like Joe Lieberman, and imbeciles like Lindsay Graham, John Boehner and the rest of the Republican propaganda network, is completely unsupported by any true empirical data other than the lower casualty rates. If you disagree with the Bush/McCain insistence that “the surge has worked,” you do not put your country first. If you think that the enemy may have simply withdrawn many of its troops and is committing less acts of violence until we leave, you are not putting your country first. This is exactly what the Viet Cong and North Vietnamese armies did when we started to draw down in Vietnam. In other words, as in the case of every important issue facing us, today, if you disagree with the positions of the Republicans, you are a traitor who would sell out your country for a buck-ninety-nine.

This brings me to tonight and the speech by Lindsey Graham. I just can’t stand this guy. He claims to be a lawyer, but I can only assume he went to the Papa Doc School of Law. He says that everything the Bush administration has done is constitutional, despite the fact that virtually every respected constitutional scholar has essentially said that most of Bush’s security measures are illegal, criminal and impeachable offenses. Then there was his insipid rant about the surge. Here’s what he said that fits into the Republican far right claims that only they are patriots:

"Our troops deserve a commander in chief that acknowledges their success, has walked in their shoes, speaks their language, shares their sufferings and will lead them to victory in a war we cannot afford to lose."

That rules out Ronald Reagan, Franklin Roosevelt, Woodrow Wilson and the current George Bush. Reagan made movies, so he never walked in my shoes or the shoes of any combat soldier. George Bush was just a coward and Roosevelt and Wilson never served. Yet, each of them apparently turned out to be a fine commander in chief. Wilson won World War I, Roosevelt won World War II, Reagan stood down the Ruskies and ended the Cold War and Bush is alleged to have won the war in Iraq because of the surge. Graham also said, “Barack Obama's campaign is built around us losing in Iraq." This is just a flat out lie and it is despicable to claim that Obama has not acknowledged the success or courageous actions of our soldiers in Iraq. Seems to me that I saw the troops giving him a standing ovation when he was in Iraq and troops deployed overseas have donated six times more money to Obama than they have to McCain. I guess our own troops aren't putting the country first.

Obama, like many of us, simply believes it is time to bring the troops home. And if this surge has worked, then why not do that? The Iraqis have made it clear that they want us out, but scum like Lindsey Graham support McCain’s stand that we might have to be there forever. Obama has said that he would bring the troops home within sixteen months of taking office and that he would refocus our military efforts on Afghanistan, something the Bush administration, McCain, Graham and the rest of the Republican cabal have failed to do for more than seven years. The Taliban and their allies are killing US, NATO and Afghan troops there in record numbers and Osama bin Laden is still alive. Yeah, the Republicans have put the country first in Afghanistan.

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The Republican philosophy goes even further. If you do not accept the Republican interpretation of the Bible, their interpretation of the Word of God, or share in their religious fervor, you do not put your country first. If you do not want the Ten Commandments in schools, in the courtroom and, apparently, on every street corner, you are un-American. If you do not agree with their positions on abortion, stem cell research, contraception, gay rights, affirmative action, and equal pay for women, you are a heathen and un-American. If you think that the American taxpayer should not be paying for private schooling, and you believe that as much money should be spent in poor, mostly minority schools, as is spent in the rich, white suburbs, you are a Commie. If you happen to be gay, bisexual or transgendered, you are all of that and you are a pervert. If you think that creationism and intelligent design are baloney and should not be mentioned in a sentence using the word “science,” you are a bad American because you don’t agree that these specious beliefs deserve to be taught in public schools. None of us who believe in any of these things, or who are members of certain groups, put our country first. According to the Republicans. 

Let’s be clear: the Republicans running our government and the ones they want to lead us for the next four years have not put the country first and certainly have not put the people in the top ten. They have stolen the Constitution and I have lost count of how many have been convicted of felonies or are currently under indictment, or are being investigated, which includes Sarah Palin. They have run up a nine trillion dollar national debt and are borrowing money from the Chinese to pay for the war in Iraq. They are stealing billions of our tax dollars to reconstruct Iraq—just when is that reconstruction actually going to happen— while the Iraqis amass tens of billions of dollars in surplus from selling us oil. They have given tax credits to their corporate masters for sending millions of American jobs to other countries while unemployment rates are at their highest in decades. They subsidize the oil industry and corporate farming while these groups gouge us into a lesser lifestyle. And don’t forget that they subsidize them with our tax dollars. They let the mortgage and banking industries commit criminal acts and then take our tax dollars to bail out Bear Stearns because they were greedy incompetents. I can’t remember when anyone I have known, who got into financial trouble because of criminality or gross malfeasance, got bailed out by the feds.

On Wednesday night I listened to the two biggest douchebags of them all—Mitt Romney and Rudy Giuliani—continue the Republican mantra that Democrats and liberals do not put the country first. Romney was ranting about “Eastern elites” and the East Coast liberal media. Here’s a guy, now from the East after leaving Michigan many years ago, who is worth $500 million dollars. I guess that’s not elite and he agrees with John McCain that you’re not rich until you make more than $5 million. Here’s a guy who has moved from being quite moderate, even liberal on some issues, to the extreme right just so he could be president. And I don’t remember him crying about the East Coast liberal media when they were favorably reporting on his health insurance plan for Massachusetts, or the fact that he ended up supporting gay marriage in Massachusetts, or that he used to favor a woman’s right to choose.  Not to mention all the taxes he raised in order to balance the Massachusetts budget. He raised the fees on—the NRA was livid—gun licenses, marriage licenses and driver’s licenses. Boy, that really helped out working people. And, oh yeah, he’s another “country first” guy who never served in the military, had five deferments and then a high draft lottery number. I guess he never knew he could volunteer and enlist like many of us liberals did.

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Stu Steinberg is a disabled Vietnam combat veteran and retired public defender and capital defense investigator.

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