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Posts Tagged ‘GIs

Missing 20th Century Republican Roots….

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Regarding the desire of many on the left and among Democrats to see the GOP die, I have very mixed emotions. I remember a very different GOP: one which had lived through the Great Depression and WWII and was firmly committed to fiscal responsibility, rebuilding and renewing the homeland, staying out of foreign military engagements as much as possible, and creating economic growth and security for everyone.

With this ignorant and bombastic GOP, I say keep up the publicity ’cause they’ll continue to lose and maybe lose even more sooner if the current Democratic fundraising push has legs, provided, of course, that the GOP doesn’t rig the electoral game too much more in their favor regardless of what is in the best interests of a constitutional democratic Republic. (FYI, a lot of these sneaky gerrymandering, etc., actions were Cheney’s grand idea. Another reason to hate that rotten old SOB.)

Movement conservative GOP libertarian ideology

Yes, I do want them to lose because they do not represent the GOP I grew up knowing and appreciating for their conservative yet economic moderation, understanding and knowledge of fiscal realities, their desire to rebuild and renew the American physical and economic landscape, and to keep Americans out of more wars. The modern conservative movement, and its many faceted coalition, no longer represent, let along understand, what those earlier Republicans stood for or helped build. Let alone why.

On the other hand, I’d like to see a renewal of a more centrist, post WWII like GOP, aka Eisenhower or Rockefeller Republican party, who were fiscally responsible (as in raised taxes to keep deficits and spending down), did not believe in American Imperialism or being the world’s great cops and liberty bringers, and recognized that the way to create both wealth and a strong functioning society was build the up middle class by providing economically family sustainable jobs and economic opportunity (including quality k-12 and affordable higher education) to anyone who worked hard enough to rise up through the ranks as two of my uncles did within major corporations to senior management ranks.

Those same old-fashioned Republicans, now called RINOs and who have been driven from the party by the Limbaughs, Ericksons, Coulters, and Hannitys of the GOP infotainment media universe, were the ones who also believed in efficient but enforced financial regulations that kept our financial system sound for 50 years. A financial soundness they knew had never happened before in the nation’s history, but at the same time empowered tremendous growth and development of new businesses, quite often through the sharing of financial and information resources of combined government and private enterprise.

Those Republicans had lived through the Great Depression and deeply understood the economic, family, and social harm caused by that speculative financial crash. Even Reagan proudly said he was an FDR Democrat (and a union head) until the ’60s when Democrats went too far left (and yes, Reagan was wrong on Medicare – the best thing the nation could do today economically would be to let go of its obsession with employer provided health care for one of the other OECD models in order to save well over a trillion dollars annually. But many like Reagan believed the AMA denunciations of Medicare way back when).

They, too, had experienced real war, unlike most in the GOP today who either like McCain cannot forget, let alone forgive, leaving Vietnam without winning, or hold to a Cheney-Kristol neo-con belief in American Imperialism that would have been antithetical to the Greatest Generation Republicans who fought WWII. Anyone who had read the dispatches of Ernie Pyle – there’s an out of print book of them and his diaries – quickly understands why Eisenhower kept the US out of more wars. Most of today’s leading GOP pundits and followers hold fast to their guns but have absolutely no knowledge or experience with actual realities of war. I’d bet few of them have ever seen the mid-1950s TV series, “Victory at Sea” that was aired every Sunday morning. They think guns, shooting, et al, are all fun and games kind of like a video game. But Ernie Pyle wrote about the dirty, bloody underside of war. Embedded with Army, he wrote about slogging through the mud, the American GIs (and himself) exhausted and worn out; seeing the bombed, bloody body parts of American GIs he knew spread across the landscape; seeing and feeling death and destruction everywhere as the Army moved north in Italy towards Germany.

My father and mother’s generation had lived through the hell of the Great Depression and WWII. My Dad rode the rails as a teenager, looking for work to send money home to his family and to support himself. My mom’s family lost their home and moved into a cousin’s barn, while my grandfather walked the highways and streets of eastern Washington, selling spices door to door. My dad convinced his mother to lie about his age so he could join the Army and later transferred to the Army Air Corps because he was allergic to horses. He and two other uncles became part of the USAF during WWII. Dad flew missions over Africa. My two other USAF uncles flew missions over Germany. Another uncle was lost when his ship was sunk in the Pacific. That is what Eisenhower knew about war and what today’s neo-cons have never experienced war and do not know…and have never experienced. They never joined up. They have never known the dirt and exhaustion, the horrors of the killing and the ugliness of death.

These prissy gun-toting haters of our social safety net have never experienced the fear, loss and devastation that my parents and grandparents went through. Worse, they don’t care to even learn or even understand. But the Eisenhower and Rockefeller Republicans knew just as Democrats of that era knew. Just as my Republican parents and grandparents knew. They had seen and lived through the worst of deregulation and speculation as well as the real horrors of war. They demanded stability, economic growth and opportunity for a better life than the one in which they had grown into adulthood. They demanded some sense of economic security and the knowledge that the killing was over. They supported reasonable, sound gun laws, as did the NRA in those days, to end the killing of which they had seen far too much.

They supported a social safety net because they knew how easily it was to lose everything they had worked years to achieve to be left with nothing: not homes, not jobs, not businesses, and often without families. They approved of restrictive regulations on Wall St. to prevent another Great Depression, caused by over speculation and gambling. Even the very McKinley-like Lochner SCOTUS eventually finally gave way to public demand for more social equity that put workers on a equal footing with owners and eventually gave way for more new business development and opportunity.

These are the reasons why Reagan was an FDR Democrat until the overreach of Democrats in the ’60s. For all of the GOP’s glorification of Reagan, they have quite literally forgotten, or chosen to ignore, what he had lived through and who he really was. They’ve twisted him into a McKinley laissez-faire hero he never was. In truth, he probably felt closer to a Rockefeller Republican with a great deal of sympathy for 1950s McCarthy-Bircher anti-communistic ideology. There is no where in his record of actions, legislation or speeches in which he preaches a laissez-faire, libertarian ideology. He was a real product of both the Great Depression and World War II…not of the cynical, selfish, ignorant modern movement conservative. I know. I lived in California, as an adult, during his Governorship as well as his Presidency. I watched him and I saw him. He is nothing like what modern conservative claim him to have been. Even his breaking of the Air Traffic Controllers Union was a product of union over reach rather than a hatred of unions. As a union negotiator, he knew and understood the values of unions in protecting the membership’s wages and benefits as opposed to inflating corporate profits at the expense of workers.

So, if and when the GOP returns to its 20th Century, post Great Depression, roots, I will begin to root for it as my parents did. Until then, I will pray – and work towards – for the national and state wide demise of its current incarnation. I believe our nation – and all her people – deserves better than the current GOP.

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This Vietnam Wife and Air Force Brat Says Thanks!

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Veterans who lost their lives depicted on a Wall of heart breaking lossThis evening as I listen to the Democratic National Convention, our GIs are standing with President Obama, because of what he and his Administration has done for them.

But when my husband came home from another war zone in 1969, he wasn’t welcomed. He had only himself, and me, to depend upon…and the company and union to which he belonged before he went to war. You see, in those days, companies just couldn’t fire or lay off a warrior. And, of course, in those days companies were less obsessed with shareholder returns and more in product and service enhancements for their customers.

As a radio operator, my husband, along with all other radio operators in that war theater, were kill targets. They were the first soldiers the enemy wanted to kill for obvious reasons. But I was blessed. He didn’t come home in a coffin or with the loss of a limb. Regardless, he didn’t come home unscathed. When my husband came home, he suffered from what is now diagnosed as PTSD. He changed from a mild-mannered, compassionate, gentle soul into a someone who’s violent actions could be sparked almost at a moment’s notice. There was no help for him all those years ago…and more than anything else, that lack of help probably destroyed our marriage.

I’m also an Air Force brat. My dad was a WWII vet who flew missions over Africa and then Italy. He joined the Army at 15, after pleading with his mother to come down to the recruiter’s office to declare he was 16 and old enough to join up. The Great Depression was still going strong. Dad had ridden the rails like so many young people, looking for work, when he finally decided to join up. A few years later, the Army developed the Army Air Corp. In Dad’s words, he learned he was allergic to horses so he asked to join the Air Corp. More than 20 years later, he retired as a Master Sargent and flight engineer. He served most of his Air Force career, post WWII, in the Strategic Air Command (SAC).

We moved, on average, once a year, sometimes after 3 months and sometimes after 2 years. And throughout all those years, the GIs became my family. They treated me and my brothers like their younger siblings. They played with us, letting us win at penny anti poker while grinning and laughing for example, and watched out for us at the base swimming pool. Those GIs were a community like no other I’ve seen since. I’ll never forget those young GIs, and I’ll never stop loving them.

Our GIs remain the same today. But remember our GIs are also our kids. They put their lives on the line for all of us. That’s why I believe as did President Eisenhower – and President Obama – that war is the last option after all other options have been exhausted.

Romney’s neo-con team of advisors, the same team that advised Pres. Bush, would choose war over peace talks and negotiations. For four solid years, they have advocated war with Iran, regardless of the international consequences. They wanted boots on the ground in Libya before Obama engaged in Air tactics in coordination with Europe. They want boots on the ground in Syria, even though doing so would spark an even larger Middle East war. They say Russia is our greatest enemy and China is a world-class threat. More boots on the ground and ships at sea and more planes overhead.

They say forget all the tactics President Eisenhower used to keep the US safe and end wars. Oh, and he did many times, even to nearly crashing the British pound to stop a war that the US would have been dragged into. He saw war death. He saw war destruction. He chose, as President, to use diplomacy and at times bribery to prevent war.

Yet, these men now advising Romney, who have never enlisted or served, never been on the battlefield, and never beheld death and destruction of war, would send more of our children to their deaths. Or come home as my husband did: a mentally wounded warrior.

So, tonight when I saw all those young warriors standing on the stage at the Democratic Convention, I could not but help to stand with them. As a country, we owe them so much, from jobs to education to opportunities to become well and start new lives. We owe them more than those, like my husband, who came home forgotten and alone.

So what would Romney do, besides start more wars to slaughter even more of our children for the sake of a fanciful, ill-advised “exceptional” notion? He says he’d consider privatizing the VA. What!?! Yeah, let’s make the health care our GIs more expensive after they’ve put their lives on the line for our nation.

Sure, Mr. Romney. I have three words for Romney. Politely put, Take A Hike!

President Obama, Mrs. Obama, and Dr. Biden have worked tirelessly for our GIs. I’m proud of what they have accomplished. I’m proud of the work they have done to care for our Vets as well as to prevent another war while our President has kept our country safe and rebuilt our nation’s reputation around the world.

As a military brat and the wife of war Vet, I believe in our nation and still believe in President Obama as the better foreign policy president as well as a president who has put more into caring for our returning vets since WWII. I know Romney-Ryan will not do so.

If you remember nothing else, remember this: Eisenhower decreased the military budget because of his quiet, behind the scenes diplomatic policies. President Obama is doing the same while still fighting our terrorist foes. Truman and Eisenhower provided and expanded the GI bill. Romney would not while at the same time choosing more war.

Yes, this is a choice election. My choice is with Obama rather than with the neo-cons advising Romney and their choice for more war and less concern for our GIs.

I’m proud of each of those GIs who stood on that stage this evening. I am one of them in my heart and soul because I grew up and lived their lives.

Written by Valerie Curl

September 6, 2012 at 8:03 PM

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