Monday, July 11, 2005

Yellowphants

Yellowphants

Yellowphants (2005)

Today's image goes out to encourage all able-bodied Young Republicans atwitter with shock and awe over BushCo's empire-building schemes in Iraq to sign up or shut up. As a concerned patriot, I want to support the good folks over at Operation Yellow Elephant -- the brainchild of The General at Jesus' General.

With military enlistments now rapidly declining, OYE targets young Republicans between the ages of 18-25. After all, these individuals have vocally defended the war, so, now that the going's got tough, shouldn't they get going? Their NeoCons need them -- especially since Ann Coulter's dream of invading countries, killing leaders, and converting "them" to Christianity seems bogged down in a sandy quagmire.

Agitprop has a handle on this situation. He notes that all the hatred of big government so crucial to the "Contract with America" crowd seems to have dissipated into the air like a fart since Bush was selected president. Poor Bill Clinton couldn't launch a cruise missile without congressional committees forming before the target was hit. But BushCo, with the raucous support of Young Republicans, has government intruding everywhere into our homes and lives. Bush even flip-flopped to create a whole Department of Homeland Security. We got us a Patriot Act to turn in UnAmerican neighbors and have our library books be, well, open books for spooks. Our bankrupt Americans get whipped with their own bootstraps but Halliburton got another 5 billion last week (a billion dollar raise over last year). Republicans in Congress will diagnose medical conditions via video (who needs a doctor anyway?) and will investigate you if your spouse's vocalized living will requests run counter to the "culture of life" (who cares what your wife said?)

But you -- Young Republican -- you tore up that old Contract, right? Big conservative government rocks. The Supreme Court will soon be corrected to be properly activist. The media not yet Fox-Fortified or Clear-Channellized is cowed. Democrats want to send terrorists to see shrinks and can barely moo in dissent of any outrageous BushCo turn of events. And you've got that fat tax cut...

...that's being wasted. You didn't know? Oh, shocking but true, the cash cream for the upper 1% could be better skimmed. Were you not aware that because enlistment has tanked many military duties and responsibilities have been farmed out to private companies and mercenaries -- who make as much in a month as soldiers are paid in a year? And, worse, we can't even slash these merc's benefits once their tour of duty is over, er, re-upped. Your immediate enlistment could help keep tax cuts more freely flowing to the most needy CEOs. Remember. Only you can prevent yachts and summer homes from foreclosure and seizure by Supreme Court sanctioned eminent domain.

Why is Operation Yellow Elephant necessary? Well, it appears that some of you empire-building cheerleaders are reluctant to put your body where your mouth is. Here's a video of Shedrick Gavin of the "Florida Republican Youth Majority" being asked if he'd like to fight in the war by Paul Rieckhoff, founder of Operation Truth. A similar trend also seemed to be on display at the recent Young Republicans convention held just last month. Max Blumenthal of The Nation spoke with some of the conventioneers about why they'd prefer to fight the war at home so they don't have to fight abroad. Blumenthal's article is called "Generation Chickenhawk":

I chatted for a while with Collin Kelley, a senior at Washington State with a vague resemblance to the studly actor Orlando Bloom. Kelley told me he's "sick and tired of people saying our troops are dying in vain" and added, "This isn't an invasion of Iraq, it's a liberation -- as David Horowitz said." When I asked him why he was staying on campus rather than fighting the good fight, he rubbed his shoulder and described a nagging football injury from high school. Plus, his parents didn't want him to go. "They're old hippies," Kelley said.

Munching on a chicken quesadilla at a table nearby was Edward Hauser, a senior at St. Edwards University in Austin, Texas -- a liberal school in a liberal town in the ultimate red state of Texas. "Austin is ninety square miles insulated from reality," Hauser said. When I broached the issue of Iraq, he replied, "I support our country. I support our troops." So why isn't he there?

"I know that I'm going to be better staying here and working to convince people why we're there [in Iraq]," Hauser explained, pausing in thought. "I'm a fighter, but with words."

At a table by the buffet was Justin Palmer, vice chairman of the Georgia Association of College Republicans, America's largest chapter of College Republicans. In 1984 the group gained prominence in conservative circles when its chairman, Ralph Reed, formed a political action committee credited with helping to re-elect Senator Jesse Helms. Palmer's future as a right-wing operative looked bright; he batted away my question about his decision to avoid fighting the war he supported with the closest thing I heard to a talking point all afternoon. "The country is like a body," Palmer explained, "and each part of the body has a different function. Certain people do certain things better than others." He said his "function" was planning a "Support Our Troops" day on campus this year in which students honored military recruiters from all four branches of the service.

Standing by Palmer's side and sipping a glass of rose wine, University of Georgia Republican member Kiera Ranke said she played her part as well. She and her sorority sisters sent care packages to troops in Iraq along with letters and pictures of themselves. "They wrote back and told us we boosted their morale," she said.

By the time I encountered Cory Bray, a towering senior from the University of Pennsylvania's Wharton School of Business, the beer was flowing freely. "The people opposed to the war aren't putting their asses on the line," Bray boomed from beside the bar. Then why isn't he putting his ass on the line? "I'm not putting my ass on the line because I had the opportunity to go to the number-one business school in the country," he declared, his voice rising in defensive anger, "and I wasn't going to pass that up."

And besides, being a College Republican is so much more fun than counterinsurgency warfare. Bray recounted the pride he and his buddies had felt walking through the center of campus last fall waving a giant American flag, wearing cowboy boots and hats with the letters B-U-S-H painted on their bare chests. "We're the big guys," he said. "We're the ones who stand up for what we believe in. The College Democrats just sit around talking about how much they hate Bush. We actually do shit."

I think the good folks over at Democratic Underground had the best response when they selected Cory as a Top Ten Conservative Idiot of the Week and simply noted:

No Cory, you actually are shit.

Naturally, both the Yellowphants and other Leave It to Freeper types get a little defensive when asked to serve in an all-volunteer army they've volunteered to put into harm's way for ousting Saddam or getting WMDs or spreading democracy or fighting the terrorists there rather than here...or Madrid or London...or whatever rationale-of-the-week. They aren't cowards who lack conviction, they claim, and throw thought problems back into their accusers' faces. Hey, they sputter, how come you liberal lefties aren't off joining police and fire departments -- or do you prefer to let others take your risks for you? Bawk. By not signing up to be a police officer or firefighter, you're obviously a chicken. Bawk Bawk. Worse, as a result, you are condoning and are personally responsible (along with Bill Clinton, of course) for all rape and murder and arson!!!

Wow. I hadn't thought of that (probably because I don't watch Fox News). It sounds good -- unless you actually decide to think about the analogy. Doesn't it smack a little of reductio ad absurdum? I mean, by the same token, my pizza delivery person could get mugged, so I should deliver my own pizzas to myself. My proctologist could have an aneurism, so I should give myself a colonoscopy. In fact, countless everyones everywhere are doing something that somehow intersects with the arc of my life, and, at any moment, all of these people could be struck by a meteor, so, therefore, I should just go ahead and pre-emptively do everything for everyone. Or...

Or, maybe, the analogy just needs to be tweaked a little. Let's say you're young and you voted to elect a fire chief. You praise the fire chief in blogs. You go to the Fire Chief Convention and orate on the fire chief's godlike nobility and wisdom. You accuse all who criticize the fire chief of hating America (and worse). Meanwhile, the fire chief initiates a new program. He decides to begin deliberately burning buildings and "fixes" the news reports to bombard the public with catapulted propaganda that the buildings are a threat to public safety, and that they contain dangerous flammable materials, and once they're gone they can be replaced with buildings the fire chief will like better. Your city is now an inferno thanks to the fire chief's policy, and, to no one's surprise, applications to become a firefighter have plummeted. What's to be done? Who, given past aggressive support for the fire chief, and being young and able-bodied should have the highest moral obligation to step forward and swiftly act in conjunction with his or her convictions? And, in the end, who is filled with more hot air than all of those burning buildings?

You -- you fried chickenhawk...

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