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Tuesday, January 31, 2006

Win Joel Stein's Opinions 

The Quietist take on Joel Stein:

People are angry at Joel Stein at the LA Times because he says he doesn't support the troops....

I'm not mad at Joel Stein. I think his opinion is wrong, but at least it's an opinion that is possible to debate and disagree with.

This is exactly the kind of thing I've been wanting to hear from leftists for a long time: a position, a clear, honest, and coherent stand on a difficult moral issue....

Everybody knows that it's complete nonsense to say that you "support the troops" but oppose what they're doing. The only way you can take that position is take the Cindy Sheehan/Michael Moore route -- that is, envision the military as made up of a bunch of poor, impoverished children who don't understand what they're doing and have no other options. But since most people in this country know at least one or two people in the military, most people know this is complete BS and it's a tough idea to sell....

Joel Stein has taken the position that any principled opponent of the war in Iraq necessarily has to take if they're going to be honest about it. The advent of the all-volunteer military makes it so. Remember, these are the people who spat soldiers returning from Vietnam -- soldier's whose only crime was to not be rich or connected enough to avoid the draft like the war protesters. But nowadays, our military consists of people who made their choice and are there voluntarily. And polls repeatedly show that the vast majority of the troops support the mission in Iraq and want to succeed there (and are much more optimistic that it's possible to succeed).

So if you want to admit that the troops are adults with full moral agency and moral responsibility, you have to be open about the fact that you oppose what they have chosen to do. And if that's your position, we can disagree and debate it. It's open and honest. I disagree, but at least there's something to disagree with.

I replied:

We should probably look at the original question. "Do you support the troops?" is a wonderfully vague question, kind of like "Do you support the children?" or "Do you support America?" It can be interpreted all over the place. Heck, prostitutes in war zones "support the troops." And those who don't support a $100,000 annual salary for privates "don't support the troops." Go figure.

Miriam quotes Mark Steyn:

[T]here are "Support Our Troops" yellow ribbons a-plenty. "What's the idea behind that?" I asked the National Guardsman manning the display. "Well," he said, "a lot of people don't support the war and they aren't comfortable with the flag-colored ribbon but they support the troops."

It seemed to me unlikely people uncomfortable with the national flag would be meaningfully supportive of the national army. But a couple of weeks later, driving past a house in Hanover, N.H., I saw an even sillier qualification: "Support Our Troops. Bring Them Home Now" -- so they can sit around the barracks feeling like losers until they're needed for some hurricane-relief operation.

The Los Angeles Times' Joel Stein (no relation) took a lot of heat last week for coming right out and saying he didn't support the troops and that it was a humbug phrase he and his antiwar comrades shouldn't have to use as cover.

Good for him. He's right. It's empty and pusillanimous, the Iraq war's version of "But some of my best friends are Jewish." If you oppose the mission, if you don't want to see it through, if you support a position whose success would only demoralize and negate the sacrifice of those serving in Iraq, in what sense do you "support the troops"? Mr. Stein should be congratulated for acknowledging that he doesn't. We armchair warmongers are routinely derided as "chicken hawks," but Mr. Stein is a hawkish chicken, disdaining the weasel formulation in which too many antiwar folks take refuge.

Meanwhile, I found this old post from March 2005:

Do You support the men and women fighting for your freedom?

Do you support those that has been killed while deployed?

if so there is this braclet five dollars to show your support to those fighting and have died while fighting for America.


Pinko fascist communists will not be interested in this:

GI-Bracelet.org is founded by Dreamissary, Inc. Since launch, we have formed a California non-profit corporation as our philanthropy arm: Dreamissary Foundation. We are currently applying for 501(c)(3) status. However, all military charity foundations that receive the donations from the GI Bracelets are 501(c)(3) organizations. And 100% of the purchase price of the GI Bracelets goes to these organizations.

You know that the entire purchase price of all GI Bracelets is donated to these funds because of our open transparent accounting, which shows every single purchase, how much money has been raised, and when and how much has been donated to each charity fund. This ensures integrity, legitimacy and credibility.

Being surrounded by all the military bases in the San Diego area, the hardship and sacrifices made by the troops and their families really hit home.

Many families fall into financial hardship when the bread winner is injured or killed. Please listen to some of the heartbreaking stories on NPR.org that inspired us to start this project. Just listen to one story, and you'll understand why we want to do this.

We originally set out to raise money to set up a college scholarship fund for the children of the fallen, and to help out the families of the injured and fallen troops. But after doing some research, there are many great organizations dedicated to take care of the children and families of the injured and fallen troops.

So, instead of duplicating the efforts, we would like to focus on raising money, and give 100% of the money to these great organizations.

Please join us by purchasing and wearing a GI Bracelet. And tell everyone you know to join us!

We are an Internet company based in San Diego, California. Our other web sites include USCharms.com, Funny.com, and BearGear.com. We also specialize in developing Web applications for clients such as Pfizer, Inc.

Noonz Wire cites both GI-Bracelet.org and Joel Stein:

By the way, if you buy a GI Bracelet, you can support a number of different funds that help troops and their families....

And Joel Stein would do well to read the FAQ over at GI-Bracelet.org, where he'll see this:

What if I don't support the war in Iraq?

The issue is not about whether you support the war or not. The GI Bracelet is about supporting our troops and their families. The children and the families of the injured and fallen need more financial help than most of us realize. Let's support them in their time of need.

Got it, Joel?

Also, if you decide to donate to American Snipers, the Challenge Coin you can get from them is really cool.

Go donate!

Michelle Malkin lists 25 suggestions on how to support the troops (a pay raise isn't one of them). Here are some excerpts:

5. Crochet hats and blankets for the troops.

15. Donate frequent flyer miles to our troops.

20. Support Operation Baby Love, which helps military moms with newborns.

25. Immunize your children from Joel Stein disease by teaching them to give thanks and say prayers every night for our men and women in uniform who have freely and bravely volunteered to defend America wherever and whenever duty calls.

Meanwhile, some people are being accused of not supporting the troops:

As a side note, what I think is funny is how certain American's will lobby for any military cause other than pay raises for us. For example, some were complaing that soldiers don't have enough body armor, and now you'll see in the news that the government is buying more body armor (the side plates). Now clearly the regular American has never worn an IBA, nor would they choose to. They're heavy as is, and now adding the side plates will probably add another 15 pounds i'd imagine, further slowing down the people that wear these on the regular basis. Anyway, why can't these same lobbyists fight for an increase in pay? I'm WAY under paid for what I do, as is pretty much everyone here wearing a uniform. Some of the civilians I work with here make quite literally 8-10x more a year than I do (with about the same experience as me or less). And most of them have NO military experience. So if you patriotic Americans really want to make a difference, two words for you- salary increase.

Dave Evans sounds the same theme:

There is a profound difference in the compensation of 9/11 victims and those that are in uniform and die serving our country. There is something really disturbing about our mentality in regards to who should get entitlement, and how much they should get. Families who lost someone in the 9/11 attack will get an average $1.18M, (yes, million). Entitlements range between $250K and $4.7M.

If you are a surviving family member of an American serviceman or servicewoman killed in action, you get a check for $6K, 50% taxable. You would also get $1,750 for funeral costs and if you are the spouse, you get $833 a month until you remarry. Each child under 18 gets $211 per month....

When pay raises come up for the military, they usually receive next to nothing and while they are deployed, their families more than likely are pinching every penny just to put food on the table.

Congress voted themselves a raise and have retirement benifits of $15K per month. They don't receive social security because they don't pay into it. If you stay in the military for 20 years, you might receive around $1K per month....

Xavier thinks in a similar fashion:

Last month Congress approved a doubling of Army sign on bonuses, meaning a new recruit could earn as much as $40,000 just for signing on the dotted line. The amount is $20,000 for new reservists. An active duty soldier with a hard-to-fill job who meets all the right criteria could earn a staggering $90,000 simply for re-enlisting.

Also, the Army will boost the amount of student loans it can repay to $65,000. This amount, when combined with the Montgomery GI Bill, will offer recruits up to $72,424 to pursue a higher education....

How about some damned pay raises for the difficult job these fine men are doing instead of money set aside for bait?

So it's clear that these "do you support the troops" questions are poppycock. Do you support the troops? Do you support your country? Do you support children? Do you support free speech? Do you support society? All such questions are ultimately meaningless, because any time that you argue that you support some abstract good, it's very easy to find an example to prove that you don't.

From the Ontario Empoblog (Latest OVVA news here)

I support children!
One gallon of ice cream per child daily! :)
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