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War fetish 

War fetish

First up let me give a great big thank-you out to your regular columnist, Gene Lyons, for his excellent article "Trigger warnings" (May 22). And, especially for his more than apt admonishment to those bleating "check your privilege" that they kiss his — well, you know. It is in that spirit of kiss my — you know, that I want to offer some thoughts about our recently passed Memorial Day and some preparatory fire for our next opportunity to wax apoplectically about our very own bloated, big (you know) military.

We just about love us some dead soldiers more than a big ol' Frito chili pie, don't we? A clean and sanitized flag-draped casket or some newly dug dirt with a cluster of little clean flags stuck in it gets our inner faucets overflowing every time. Well, we don't actually call them dead soldiers, we like to say they are "fallen" as if somehow that makes it all right and they're still really alive and unemployed and only missing a few unseeable body parts and trying to get help from the mean ol' VA and, God forbid, not one of those "trigger warnings."

Anyway, we blew the drums and beat the horns or the other way around, and wept and cheered, and got all warm when we saw old Colin Powell, one of the good — um, people, without his United Nations WMD clothes on, and wanted to go all Putin on those Obamacare-loving liberals. Bang, bang went the fireworks and we strapped on the kids and hugged our guns and stretched up on our tiptoes and thumped our Bibles on the hoods of our pickup trucks, which are a whole lot bigger than yours — you know what I'm saying. And here we are in the afterglow, full of love for the dead and wanting to see some blood from that VA administrator with the unpronounceable, funny name.

How about we try doing something else? Instead of continuing to make a fetish of uniforms and bombs and planes and all the other adolescent props that divert our attention from the real world, why don't we take all the wasted resources we pour into perpetuating our death fantasies and spend it on education, and job training, and repairing or replacing our outdated, rotting infrastructure, and decreasing the speed of climate change, and housing, and feeding our hungry children just for starters? While we're about change, what if we turn all the VA hospitals and their massive budgets, as well as their negotiating power over, to the medical schools in every state where one exists? Maybe it would be possible to maintain a reasonable level of national oversight and purchasing power while giving the state institutions administrative and operational authority. Open the doors to all seeking health care. A bonus would be getting rid of the current federal government-run (socialized medicine) system we have now for military veterans. How much of a scandal would that be?

As a final insult to our perpetual struggle at maintaining our childhood, what if we stop creating dead soldiers or military veterans? Can we give up our fantasy of a "good" war with everyone who isn't us and work toward peace instead? What if our children really do learn from the behavior we show them? Yeah, yeah, I know: carrots and sticks. The problem there is that when you're out of carrots, are sticks what you want to be looking for?

David Steadman

Damascus

Bigger picture

Dozens of preachers, mainly black, gathered at the Arkansas state capital today to protest gay marriage. We haven't seen this type of "ecumenical" protest since the '60s civil rights movement!

Regardless of your moral or religious stance, their priorities are totally misaligned. Arkansas ranks 49th in child poverty, minority voting rights are being threatened, mass incarceration of blacks, Hispanics and the poor is at an all-time high, Affirmative Action is about to be a thing of the past, federally funded health care coverage in under siege, violence in many of the neighborhoods where their churches are located is riveting — and you choose to march against what two consenting adults decide to do with their lives.

Gay marriage is no threat to democracy. Is it me or is someone missing the bigger picture of the Gospel meaning, which is to bring liberty to the oppressed? And the ultimate truth is some of them are gay as well but too coward to stand in truth. Now, let the church say, Amen!

Jajuan Johnson

Little Rock

From the web

On the May 22 article about Koy Butler's unsuccessful attempt to open a small group home for disabled adults in North Little Rock:

Wrongdoing is that unlicensed opportunists are allowed to move elderly and disabled people into homes that are unlicensed and unsupervised "surrounded by their prize possessions." Obviously they house only three because that is the maximum allowed without a license. This guy owns nursing homes — too much supervision? Too much scrutiny? These homes cost twice or more what a nursing home costs to the patient, but no license and no supervision. Much easier to convert patient real estate assets and personal possessions to his own bank account without licensing or oversight.

How does he recruit these patients? Does he advertise? How does he get "referrals"? Do nursing homes deny admittance to steer patients into his and others' private unlicensed, unsupervised care?

Arwth

On the Arkansas Blog item about the disqualification of 80 percent of the ballots in St. Francis County:

The fact that we got 80 percent of the ballots in a Democratic county disqualified warms this Republican's heart. 

Every conservative in Arkansas is rejoicing today, from Stacy Hurst to her partners in politics, Tim Griffin and Jason Rapert. Not since the 1960s have we managed to keep black folk in their place so well. 

And I want to thank all the poll workers and commissioners for their service to democracy.

Paying Top Dollar for Legislators

On the Arkansas Blog item on the rally by black clergymen against same-sex marriage:

Last week in the list of marriage licenses issued in the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, I saw the names of a couple of my neighbors. When I saw one of them a few days ago, I congratulated her and said that I'd seen their names in the paper. She was so excited to hear that, she pulled out her phone and called her partner to tell her. You could hear the excitement in her voice. Not only were they able to get married, they got their name in the paper for doing so — something we take for granted. Marriage or a civil union — no matter what you call it — gives them so many more important rights, things most of us take for granted.

I really wonder when looking at the men in the picture, many who have probably faced discrimination because of their race, and heard stories of what their grandparents and parents faced, how they can forget that history? I wonder how they can claim to be Christians — much less Christian pastors — when they are deliberately wanting to restrict the rights of people who are different from them? 

Never Vote Republican

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