Maple Leaf Rag

Well, what do you expect? We're blogging about Canadians.Ten miles from where we write, Robin Long sits in a brig at Miramar Marine Corps Air Station. He pleaded guilty last August to desertion from the Army, and is serving a 15-month sentence.

Long is the first war resister deported from Canada since Vietnam. He enlisted in the Army in 2003, with what he thought was an assurance from his recruiter that he would not be sent to Iraq. When the Army ordered him to Iraq anyway in 2005, he fled the country. Long had been vocal about his objections to the war, and he was the only soldier deployed from his “nondeployable” unit.

Long had applied for refugee status, but the Canadian government has denied all claims of his kind. Instead, he was required to report his whereabouts every month. The Canadian government said he failed to keep his schedule, and deported him after trial. His Canadian partner and their young son still live in British Columbia.

It’s good to know that when it comes to enforcing the law, Canada has its priorities straight.

Government ignores request to bar Bush from Canada [Lawyers Against the War]
84 Comments

It’s not like that we in Canada City didn’t do this before.

There is our shameful rejection of a boatload of German Jewish Refugees in the late 30s (most of whom later died in the Concentration camps) and was a source of collective national guilt till it was forgotten.

However, this is the first time in a long long time we deported a US deserter/conscientious objector. Considering who is currently in power, Fatty McGoo Harper, I’m not surprised. It was his (feeble) attempt at making points with an admin he longed to pay with the lives of Canadian Troops to blow. Its not too bad that that Admin is no longer in power.

In my ignorant teenaged gungho days, I would have thought them cowards, but something happens when you are taught by a couple of profs who were Vietnam era conscientious objectors and speak to folks who actually live through that era. I have more contempt for those who hid behind the flag, insanity, deferments and/or injuries (I’m looking at the Rush/Cheney/Kristol/Nugent Crowd.)

I’ve got mixed feelings. On one hand the truth is that RECRUITERS lie. When I was attempted to sign up my dad told me that. A couple of friends who went through RMC told me that. Someone who I knew was ex-military told me that. He naively assumed that the Army bureaucracy actually gives a shit about him. Anyone who has spent enough time in any bureaucracy knows that the bureaucracy only cares about bureaucracy.

But on the other hand, he has a kid.

Only thing this guy is guilty of is having a knack for putting himself in very bad spots.

I have much more sympathy for a conscript that was compelled to serve in the military than someone who enlisted of their own free will. If there’s one thing that everyone should know about recruiters it’s that they will say ANYTHING to get you to sign on the dotted line.

I’m going to put my Lawyer Hat on here.

Read everything you sign. Dumbass.

There’s an advisory at the bottom of the first page of the enlistment contract. It says:

The agreements in this section and attached annex(es) are all the promises made to me by the Government. ANYTHING ELSE ANYONE HAS PROMISED ME IS NOT VALID AND WILL NOT BE HONORED.

And then there is this little line where you put your initials and so forth and so on.

My guess is that this clown doesn’t have a get-out-of-hell-free card attached to his contract. If my guess is right? FAIL.

And thus this has a Code Pink flavor to it that gives me a small amount of pause. Yeah — I wouldn’t have wanted to go to Iraq either. But nobody forced him to sign up.

(Noted and freely accepted: the fact that certain racial/ethnic/economic segments of society are targeted by recruiters inasmuch as they are more prone to sign up than rich white boys. But still — the fact that you are part of the underclass should make you more skeptical of promises made by the Government.)

ManchuCandidate: Oh dear — the Union-Tribune article Fearless Leader nojo linked to said the magic words:

Olivia Chow

As in, Olivia Chow came to grandstand visit this sap. And thus we now know that the favor of St. Jack of Layton (blessings be upon him) rests upon this poor soul.

Hoo-boy.

(Possible alternate explanation: Chow saw and took advantage of an excuse to (a) get away from Jack for a while and (b) log some well-earned Sandy Eggo time after a hard winter in Canada City. In which case: well played, ma’am.)

@chicago bureau: Nancy P. is promising us that the AIG bonuses will be clawed back. I’d like that in writing.

SanFranLefty: Ritual suicide aside, have you ever seen a Japanese businessman apology? That would be so best. (Or, perhaps, the punitive inter-office transfer.)

AIG heads have totes brought shame upon their families. Relocation to the Sapporo Branch is too good for them.

@chicago bureau: Manchu can testify, but I think Koreans do it better. They often cry.

But still, it is often a “fail upwards” ploy. The Japanese Diet is filled with apologists who gave up the PM position in order to keep their land/banks/boys/occupied territory.

@SanFranLefty: They could do it themselves, or we could do it for them, Chinese style:

http://www.nytimes.com/2007/07/11/business/worldbusiness/11execute.html?fta=y

I always thought we needed a deth penalty for massive fraud on the US America. If not now, when? If not then, who?

Nabisco: Or we could go with the Old Europe method of civil unrest. Per WaPo:

A tidal wave of public outrage over bonus payments swamped American International Group yesterday. Hired guards stood watch outside the suburban Connecticut offices of AIG Financial Products, the division whose exotic derivatives brought the insurance giant to the brink of collapse last year. Inside, death threats and angry letters flooded e-mail inboxes. Irate callers lit up the phone lines. Senior managers submitted their resignations. Some employees didn’t show up at all.

“It’s a mob effect,” one senior executive said. “It’s putting people’s lives in danger.”

Politicians and the public spent yesterday demanding that AIG rescind payouts that they said rewarded recklessness and greed at a company being bailed out with $170 billion in taxpayer funds. But company officials contend that the uproar is scaring away the very employees who understand AIG Financial Products’ complex trades and who are trying to dismantle the division before it further endangers the world’s economy.

“It’s going to blow up,” said a senior Financial Products manager, who spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to speak for the company. “I have a horrible, horrible, horrible feeling that this is going to end badly.”

Honestly: I never figured that the unrest would begin in Connecticut. What’s next? Tear gas being fired off in Portland, Me. to break up a riot? (It’s been simmering for a while — those bastards in Lewiston have been up to no good.)

Didn’t this guy see Private Benjamin or Stripes? Sheesh.

I can’t play videos on this here ‘puter. Does anyone know what that MSNBC story above about Dubya not being welcome in Canada is all about?

@SanFranLefty: Let’s not get diverted by the AIG bonus circus. AIG was running a Ponzi scheme for years with its CDO business — because it didn’t have to keep reserves against claims like a “real” insurance company does, it was paying off claims with premiums from subsequent CDO buyers. Sound familiar? Bernie Madoff has to learn show tunes now because he got caught at it. How much did these bright boys know, the towers of integrity that Obama has brought in to run Treasury etc?

@Kiss Jamie Sommers, She’s Irish: Apparently anyone suspected of crimes against humanity is considered “inadmissible” to Canada, and the government bears responsibility for investigating said crimes. It’s cute how they think that someone will hold him accountable.

@redmanlaw: Hilarious. Ol’ Donnie has the worst gaydar EVAH. So Toby Keith is a gay danger for being a cowboy, while Morrissey is listed as “(?questionable?)” and Cyndi Lauper heads the list of “safe” music? Hahahahaha

@Nabisco:
Lots of crying and chest thumping. Who says we aren’t dramatic?

Mistress Cynica: You do realize that Morrissey is turning … 50 years old in a couple of months.

God damn it — I’m getting old, quick.

(Bad news for Mr. Morrissey: in ten years, he will finally figure out which way his heart is wired, but anatomical tools useful for the purpose will be inoperative. Tough break, Moz.)

@chicago bureau: “Company officials contend that the uproar is scaring away the very employees who understand AIG Financial Products’ complex trades and who are trying to dismantle the division before it further endangers the world’s economy.”

If I hear that fucking excuse for paying bonuses one more time, I will scream. What are the employees going to do, quit? Who else is around to hire them? There are tens of thousands of smart out-of-work traders who AIG can hire to try to fix the problems.

Hell, Dodgerblue correctly diagnosed the problem with AIG and he’s a country lawyer from SoCal.

@Mistress Cynica: And what the hell does “George Michael (texan)” mean?

SanFranLefty: George Michael is not from Texas, but Texas loves him anyway. Or something.

Excuse me.

[CB slaps self]

Meanwhile: the whole “we have to pay bonuses to keep talent” deal is now as exciting as white wallpaper. It’s kind of like a GOPer talking about socialism. It’s when the brain begins to zone out and start to think about something else, like baseball or what to have for lunch or something like that.

@SanFranLefty: “Only steers and queers come from Texas…”

DEVELOPING HARD: Steelers owner Dan Rooney is your new Ambassador to Ireland.

Awesome on several different levels.

@chicago bureau: Agreed. Maybe Franco Harris can be Ambassador to Italy.

@redmanlaw: I added a few to the list:

Mormon Tabernacle Choir (not Christian, fancy close)

Marching Band of the US Marine Corps. (men play dress up and shower together)

Yo Yo Ma (elieet snob foreign)

and sent it to them. It’s a very old list. What the hell are Cole Porter and Frank Sinatra doing on a list of ‘bands’? There’s also a quote attributed to O Wilde who is billed as a ‘reformed’ homosexual.

It might be funny if it wasn’t so depressing.

@Tommmcatt the Wet Sprocket: I certainly hope it’s satire.

@chicago bureau: Nabisco will be so excited. Maybe the Raiders would win a few games if Al Davis were sent to a foreign country.

@mellbell: thanks

@redmanlaw: I agree with Tommmcatt the Wet Sprocket. That can’t be serious. I laughed out loud at that site. George Strait? WTF, it’s right there in the name!

I’ve hesitated to share this–(deep breath, here goes)–but here’s one of the reasons I feel so much anger and disgust with our military (this and the fact that they routinely shoot and bomb civilians. I mean, how can people live with themselves after that, especially killing kids? Anyways):

My brother had a fairly decent job working at a Wal-Mart distribution center in small town Arkansas (“If you worked here, you’d be poor by now!”), until Wal-Mart executives decided to move his job to Alabama where the people were even poorer, more desperate and willing to work for less.

There were no other jobs in the economically depressed area where he lives, and he has two kids, so my brother signed up with the National Guard after the recruiter promised him the mythical “desk job.” Would you care to guess where my brother has spent the last 15 months as a gunner on one of those infamous Humvees? I-R-A-Q.

He couldn’t afford to move to another area, and my parents were already doing everything they could to help him, his wife and their kids. Yes, this was an incredibly stupid choice made by my brother, but really, what other choice did he have? Does the government really spend any time or money helping people find any other kind of work outside of the military?

So my brother is coming home finally at the end of this month. He’s been back for visits twice before—last July and December—and my sister-in-law tells us that he wakes up sobbing in the middle of the night and flips out if she and the kids leave him alone for even a few minutes. He’s likely got untreated PTSD, and being the stubborn guy that he is, he’ll probably let it ruin his life.

His situation is duplicated endlessly all over the country for the poor and lower middle-class, with military recruiters telling somewhat desperate prospects and their families anything that they want to hear–so long as they sign up–then hiding behind the contract when the bait ‘n switch hits. It seems incredible, but there really are people who are so gullible that they’re surprised when they discover that they military lied to them.

In re Rooney: Pittsburghers are enraged.

Not because they don’t like Rooney per se, but because (according to Post-Gazette online chatters) he threw away his Catholic faith by supporting a candidate who kills babies — personally — and swore a blood oath to support the principles of the Situationist International.

God — wingers are just boring sometimes.

[ADD: In that same vein, Little Green Footballs (yes, yes, I know) has the story of an AIG honcho at a garden party. The crime here? Wearing a Che Guevara tee-shirt. Oh, the merger of outrage about the right thing (punching the economy and knocking it the fuck out) and outrage about the wrong thing (the right’s nutty obsession with Che, and tee-shirts with his image on them).]

@Original Andrew:

My heart aches for your brother and his family. Please try to convince him to get to the VA to see a psychiatrist. My best friend is a psychiatrist in Texas who did part of her residency at the VA and maybe she could have recommendations of places in Arkansas. Untreated PTSD is hell on earth for everyone.

Also, as to your point…One of my former clients is going to Afghanistan in two months and just weeks after his wife will have their baby. I told him when he enlisted that the recruiter was lying when he told him that he wouldn’t be sent to Iraq. But what else was he going to do? He had “graduated” from foster care with no family or resources to go to, and college wasn’t working out for him. I tell myself that the Army is better on one level because he’s getting health care, he’s gotten to see different parts of the U.S. and get out of the shit state he grew up in, he’s learning job skills, and isn’t homeless, dead, dealing drugs or in prison like so many other former foster youth. What fucking choice is there in that, though?

@Original Andrew:
In my more tinfoil hat moments, I’ve wondered if the military helps to keep certain areas (Deep South, Rural Areas) in the economic dumper so they can recruit more troops.

@ManchuCandidate: In this particular case involving canuckistan, since this guy was the only person from his non-combat unit sent to Iraq, it seems more than mere misrepresentation or failure to keep a promise, it seems like the fucking pricks, once they got him to joiun up, purposely fucked him, singled him out to be sent to Iraq. Fucking dicks.

@Original Andrew: That’s a terrible story.

Contracts like those used by the military are designed to be unreadable.

@Original Andrew: I was best man at a wedding for a guy who did two tours with the ANG. His wife said he has the PTSD, but has not gotten treatment as far as I know. He’s a Mexican dude, so I wonder if he thinks that going to the VA will fuck up his chances at citizenship.

I almost joined the Army once myself the first time I dropped out of college. (I fit the rural, working class, minority demographic to a T). A friend who was in the Israeli army advised against it. He thought the army he was in was stupid and he thought I’d feel the same about the US American armed forces. One of my law school band mates (bass player) went over once or twice with the JAG corps. I’ll ask him what he thought of it.

Thank you all for your kind words. I’m sharing my brother’s story now because it’s not unusual, actually I’d say it’s fairly typical.

I’ve no idea what will happen next. Once his tour ends this month, there’s still the small matter that he’s gonna have to find a full time job. Before he enlisted, I asked my parents to pay for him to go to community college or trade school, and they agreed, but what he’ll study is a mystery since he’s never had any interest in school.

Generally, it’s best that I stay out of any recommendations to seek treatment, because he’s already told me in no uncertain terms that it’s none of my business. I also live 2,300 miles away, so personal pleas are out. It seems that people like my brother who need help the most are the ones most likely to refuse to seek it.

There’s also the fact that my mother and my brother are still somewhat pissed at me ’cause I basically begged him not to join (it was pre-Surge). I just knew he was gonna get sent to Iraq, and the Arkansas National Guard had already been over there once. They may be shipped off to Iraq again or sent to Afghanistan next. And honestly, my views on our military are quite negative, so it’s probably better if I just stay out of it altogether.

I guess that’s a big part of why this is so endlessly frustrating–there’s nothing that I can do about it. And more young men and women are signing up to continue this insanity.

@ManchuCandidate:

I don’t think that’s a tinfoil hat theory, I’d say it’s a fact of life.

@Original Andrew:
Sometimes the best thing one can do is just listen to what your brother has to say and not say anything or be judgmental. One of the problems that soldiers have with us civvy street types is our lack of understanding. A little empathy can go a long way.

I highly recommend a couple of books to get an insight into PTSD.
On Killing and it’s companion book On Combat: By David Grossman
War is a Force That Gives Us Meaning: By Chris Hedges

I read On Killing and War Is A Force… as part of my reading before I attempted to sign up. It was one thing to read up on tactics, but also prepare for the psychological cost.

@redmanlaw: I have a buddy who was a Marine, in the JAG Corps in Vietnam. He was prosecuting ghetto kids who had fragged their officers. Pretty hairy stuff.

Sometimes one has to smile.

W visited Calgary (no shit) yesterday. The oil establishment luves him. Why not? $150 US for a barrel, what’s not to love?

Even in the heart of oil country, there seems to be quite a few upset folks.

http://www.theglobeandmail.com/servlet/story/RTGAM.20090316.wbush0316/BNStory/National/home

@ManchuCandidate: I thought your great country did not allow war criminals to visit.

@Dodgerblue:
I suspect it was a very violent part of the never mentioned GIs Revolt which effectively crippled the Vietnam war effort.

http://libcom.org/history/vietnam-gi-resistance

@Dodgerblue:
In theory.

Never stopped Waldheim. It’s not like my neo con PM going to let the words “alleged war criminal” stop him.

@Dodgerblue: Goddamn . . . there are some very heavy stories to be pulled out from there.

I was reading recently about a talk given by Seymour Hersh and some other dude, where they were asked if our nation’s consistently bad civilian and military leadership over the last 40 years, and especially our nation’s flaunting of our own and international laws banning torture and other war crimes, were self-evident proof that our system of government doesn’t work. They didn’t seem to know how to respond. Sad.

Ok, there’s got to be some good news out there today, right?

Anyone?

(crickets chirping)

@Original Andrew:
Not much good around here.
A friend of mine’s father died yesterday.
My cousin died on Sat (parents and sister are at his funeral.)

(in really weak voice) It’s St Patty’s Day, yeah!

@Original Andrew: When I require less-depressing news, I usually turn to the LOL-pics sites (icanhascheezburger.com and friends), or as is the case today, go drooling over consumer electronics at dpreview.com. Or, As It Happens last night had a nice story of a lost cat in Spokane which was resolved when a sofa sent to Value Village and purchased by someone else ended up containing the missing moggy. Very nearly adorable, and nothing/no one died.

@ManchuCandidate:

I’m so sorry to hear that.

@Tommmcatt the Wet Sprocket:

Tell the class about him. What’s his name? Do they have dog parks in LA?

We have two hell-laycious Damnations, err Dalmatians, and they LUV the dog park. Ours is fully fenced, about 11 acres and only 10 minutes from Casa OA. Many a happy puppy hour has been spent there over the years.

(I’m suddenly reminded of a joke I heard about people who kept an old junker car in the back yard so their dogs would be able to jump in and out of it with that thrilled “We’re going somewhere!” look on their faces all the time.)

I’m pleased to say that this ratfuck former Democratic state senator got taken down big time by los federales:

____

Former New Mexico state Senate leader Manny Aragon was sentenced Tuesday to 5½ years in prison for his role in a corruption case that stained his long career of public service.

Aragon also was fined $750,000 — the bulk of which he already has forfeited to the government — and ordered to pay at least $649,000 in restitution.

Aragon, an Albuquerque Democrat who served in the Senate for 29 years, offered a rambling 20-minute speech in which he apologized for his crimes, and then broke into tears, before being sentenced by U.S. District Judge William P. Johnson.

http://www.abqjournal.com/abqnews/abqnewseeker-mainmenu-39/11159-aragon-apologizes-in-corruption-case.html

____

This was one of the cases that former Sen. Pete Domenici called ex-US Atty David Iglesias on. The GOP needed some indictments of high ranking Hispanic Dems to help the Evil Heather Wilson in her eventually successful reelection campaign to Congress from Albuquerque against dumb/corrupt (allegedly) AG Patricia Madrid. The US Atty wasn’t moving fast enough so he got canned. His replacement was not picked by the WH, but by a panel of federal judges here.

Aragon was a corrupt motherfucker who loved the exercise of power. I sincerely hope his sentencing (and the conviction of other Dems here recently) will help wash the scum into the street so we can take an argument and stereotype away from the RW dickheads who are no doubt crowing about this on the radio. More good news: the state auditor is looking into sweetheart deals cut by the asshole GOP rancher we have as our state lands commissioner.

ADD: Aragon was also interesting in that he did a lot of hard core real liberal stuff, but for me it was just overshadowed by his real work.

Also, sorry about your losses Manchu. I hope you have fond memories of those who’ve passed on.

@redmanlaw:

There is something deeply satisfying about a politician being sent to prison.

Doesn’t the sound of the cell door locking mean an angel gets their wings?

@Original Andrew:

He is called “Thor”, after the comic book hero. He’s a American Staffordshire terrier mix, very sweet, and eager to please. There is a dog park near us: Runyon Canyon. It has a nice uphill hike, and is a great place for teh dogggies.

Hey, buck up, little beaver. God moves in strange and silent ways, and, uh, so does the universe…so just trust whatever you revere. Your brother will come out of this ok, mostly because it sounds to me like he has a family that really loves him…

@IanJ:

Have you tried happynews.org?

http://happynews.org/

(It doesn’t work–I guess that’s the joke. Ba-dum-ching.)

A local bar is offering “Irish Nachos” today.

I wasn’t aware that nachos were an Irish delicacy.

@Tommmcatt the Wet Sprocket:

I just Googled images of the American Staffordshire terrier–OMFG, those dawgs couldn’t be cuter! Will you be posting family pix at the next Jam?

@Original Andrew: Sure, nachos with potato slices instead of corn chips. Good stuff, properly done. Today would be a good day to visit/avoid Paddy Coynes down by REI.

@Tommmcatt the Wet Sprocket: Have you taken Mr. Dog to the off-leash area up above Westridge? You go west on Mullholland from the 405 until it turns to dirt on your left. Go up the rutted dirt road and park near the top. The off-leash fire road is to your left, about an hour walk round trip, dozens of dogs in the morning. To your right is the trail to the old Nike base; your dog is supposed to be on leash there, but many are not. We go up there nearly every weekend.

@Original Andrew:

I will be, but I have to get them off teh camera first.

@Dodgerblue:

OMG, I will have to try that out. That sounds really cool…

@Tommmcatt the Wet Sprocket: You’re Thor?

I can’t even walk.

Old joke. Sorry. I’m ashamed.

Tiptoes away from computer.

@Original Andrew:
I think “the other dude” speaking with Seymour Hersch recently was a dude named Walter Mondale. Hang in there with your brother. Believe me I’ve learned due to numerous family members with mental illness that you can’t force them to get help but just have to be there. The only thing I can tell some of them is “If you think you’re going to hurt yourself please call me before you do anything.”

He had better be as hot as Adam Koresh. Otherwise I just don’t care.

@Dodgerblue: @Tommmcatt the Wet Sprocket:

You two totally have to have the Stinquey-pupster Meet Up in the El Ay area. Puppies and liberal men! Yes! Preferably when RedManLaw is in SoCal. I can’t be the only person organizing Stinquey get togethers – Tommy is a ghey boy so I think he could handle the logistics if RML and Dodger can’t…

@SanFranLefty: What, straight men don’t do email? Hey Tommcatt, to the Clubhouse!!

@Dodgerblue:
Get to it, man!
And since TommCatt still hasn’t posted a photo of Thor the puppeh here (I’m certain that Nojo would indulge us with a post that was nothing but puppeh photos) or in the Clubhouse, if you can get a photo of Thor with your puppehs since she can’t get her shit together enough to post photos of her Thor, that would be awesome. Because I know I don’t just speak for me and flippin’ and Cynica and Baked when I say I lurve the puppeh photos.

@SanFranLefty:

And I’m slurring and saying shit like “lurve” and “puppeh” because I’m sort of drunk. Will turn of computer now before I do any more damage.

Where’s baked????

xoxo

@chicago bureau: Yes, but am I younger or older than Morrissey? That’s all that matters.

Damn. Three weeks and change. On the other hand, I can steal his lunch money.

@nojo: A friend of mine saw Morrissey in NYC the other night and said he was rocking the place. God knows I wrote the lyrics of many a Smiths song on my binders in 1988, as I was so full of angst…

bono is 11 or 12 days older than me

@SanFranLefty:

It was Mondale, siempre tienes razon. For some reason, I kept thinking it was Bill Moyers; they’re almost twinkies with their glasses on.

@homofascist:

He’s my brother, so I don’t think of him that way, but he isn’t as hawt as Kokesh, sorry. On a positive note, basic training did whip him back into shape after a couple of years of too much beer.

Oh and BTW, Kokesh was 100% Paultard. Talk about an instant wood-kill.

@Tommmcatt the Wet Sprocket:

You probs already know this, but be sure to have plenty of chew toys around at all times. FSM help me, all of our pups’ chewing blew my mind. Chew toys, shoes, remote controls, baseboards, etc.

@Original Andrew: Oh gosh, I was talking about the Canada guy. And of course like an insensitive dumbass I didn’t go through and read the comments first. Sorry hon, of course I care about your brother and family.

@homofascist:

No offense taken at all, General HF. Brother OA would be perfectly flattered if you were inquiring about his hawtness level.

Something that I truly love about my fellow Stinquers is that we can pretty much say anything that we want to each other and know that it won’t be taken the wrong way.

@Tommmcatt the Wet Sprocket: We spotted the ocean/at the head of the trail/where are going?/so far away…

@Original Andrew: Oh, your poor brother and family. My recruiter lied to me and then encouraged me to lie as I was being processed at MEPS.

There are certain rules in place to protect service members, like only one member of an active duty married couple can be deployed at a time, but a lot of those rules get trumped by The Needs of the Navy.

I was enlisted during the 1st Gulf War, and there were stories of married Marines where both were active duty, and both were given 48 hours to be prepared to deploy. Sometimes their kids ended up in foster care until a relative could fly out to wherever they were stationed and get the kids.

You learn pretty quickly when you’re enlisted that you have become government property and have given up damn near all your rights. You can be written up for speaking your mind (happened to me), for getting a sunburn bad enough to require medical attention (destruction of govt property), and if someone of a higher rank than you takes a major disliking to you, there’s nothing you can do but grab your ankles until they or you get stationed somewhere else (happened to me).

I was lucky that I had one leading petty officer who protected me A LOT from folks who wanted to write me up. God, it was a mess. And it’s not like you can quit if you’re enlisted and you’re hating your job. Officers can resign if they don’t owe any time to the Navy for their education, and I think they still can resign if they agree to pay back the Navy. The enlisted, the lowest on the totem pole, the grunts, the least educated and most often the poorest can’t do anything if they end up stuck in a shitty command. And these kids (I include myself in that group) had no fucking clue what they were getting into. None. And every command is different — you could be at one command that was great, but then the next one is hell, and you’re stuck there for at least 2-3 years.

We used to say: The Navy. It’s not just a job, it’s an indenture.

@HillRat: Trust me — it’s not informed consent. Many folks join the military as a last-ditch effort to escape poverty and get some money for college. Some join out of patriotism. Some want to see the world. But the military is fucked up, and these kids have no idea what they’re getting into, conscripted or enlisted, they deserve better.

@JNOV: My buddy who went to the Coast Guard had a great time. Like me, he was fucking up and had dropped out of college. We were doing yard work for his dad’s art scene friends. He ended up stationed in Cape Cod and then somewhere in Oregon. There was massive drinking, boarding boats while loaded for bear, boning on top of the radar thing in the main office part of the boat where they run things from, and weird shit like some lame ass jr officer getting VD off a blow up sex doll. His dad died in a plane crash while he was in the service. He came to see my parents in his dress uniform when he was home. (My dad was on an SAR group that went looking for my friend’s dad, a fairly well known artist). I like to remind him that he is a veteran of the Department of Transportation.

The daughter of one of my partners is now in the Coast Guard Academy, where she is on the sailing team. She used to be this slight little thing who sold us Girl Scout cookies and wrapped gifts at Borders to raise money for the scouts at Christmas but has now bulked up and could probably break my arm while throwing me to the floor and pulling her sidearm.

My own national and public service has consisted of building fences and trails, maintenance and permitting rafters on the Rio Grande for the Forest Service and Bureau of Land Management and my tribe, providing legal services to the poor in Navajo land, serving as an assistant district attorney, and enforcing our nation’s environmental laws on behalf of Indian tribes and citizen groups. One reason I didn’t enlist when my friend did is because of the possibility of fighting other Indians down in Central America at the time. I had no illusions about the military since I knew guys who went and came back. One guy sat around the house and drank, got fat and had a heart attack in his 20s. Then there was my friend who was tripping all the time while guarding nukes in West Germany . . .

Fun fact: one of the Army’s best sharpshooters now is a woman who joined to play in the band.

@IanJ: Surfing IMDB is fun, too. You get to say “wow, I didn’t know he/she was in that!” to yourself a lot, which is amusing.

There is a Coast Guard training facility/boot camp in Cape May, and my nephew, now a bosun’s mate, was a DI there for a while. In today’s paper I read of another Coast Guard DI who sexually assaulted a recruit, or whatever you call the young-uns, after boot camp had ended, but still, a little guy on guy coast guard rape action, I am gonna tease my nephew fiercely.

@redmanlaw: The Coast Guard and the Air Force seem to be the better branches. The Marines, Army and Navy, not so much. I was in the Navy but stationed on a Marine Corps base (because the Marines are part of the Navy, and they don’t have their own medical personnel). Some parts of my six years in were glorious — we were young; we were in SoCal; we had amazing fun camping all over CA and renting trailers on the beach at Camp Pendleton and driving our friend’s motorhome to bars so we could crash in the parking lot after we shut the bar down. We went deep sea fishing and went to concerts — we had a good time.

BUT if someone got a wild hair up their ass, and they outranked you, your ass was toast. Period. I was in trouble all the fucking time. And I was put on nights a lot, even though I was divorced from husband #1 and had no nighttime childcare. People would volunteer to work my night shifts, and the LPO would say no — I had to do it. I would show up to work in the morning and be sent home so I could work nights for a week — no notice, no chance to find someone to watch Jr. All because this LPO hated me. I was told my child was not issued to me in my sea bag, so it was my problem to deal with.

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