Vets March on Washington

Yesterday, military veterans marched on Washington in protest of the closure of open-air memorials. Some conservative activists also joined in and gave speeches, which the Million Vet March has did not appreciate as they wanted this to be a non-partisan event.

As you might expect, the media and the Left focused all their attention on the political speakers (and a few confederate flags that were displayed) than on the quite reasonable and mostly apolitical demand that open-air memorials be opened. In fact, they’ve put more attention on a few speeches there than they have on just about any of the petty bullshit going on with the shutdown, such as forcing people out of private homes and closing private businesses because they happen to sit on federal land.

(The excuse being given for these closures is safety and liability. I’ve addressed this before, pointing out that the government has sovereign immunity from most lawsuits and no one is going to slip and fall at the Vietnam memorial who wouldn’t have slipped and fallen before the shutdown. The goes the same for the Lake Meade situation: the Lake is in no danger of flooding. Quite the opposite actually.)

The protest — which was about as non-violent as you could get — has provoked the usual shock and outrage from the usual quarters. The political protesters made this easy with the confederate flags and a demand that Obama “put down the Koran”, which was unfortunate. But it’s also a deliberate confounding of the protesting veterans with a group of tag-along politicians.

Still, even given that, the reaction to the political protest is disproportionate, to say the least. Andrew Sullivan said it was an act of rebellion and we are in a “cold Civil War” (as with most commentators he is taking the views expressed by the likes of Larry Klayman as representative of every conservative within a 3000 mile radius). Funny enough, these adjectives were not thrown out when much more aggressive and hysterical protests were held to protest the Iraq War. Or the Contract with America. Or for abortion rights. Or for gun control. Or all the way back to the Vietnam protests (when we really were in a cold civil war). To throw such epithets at a small group of political protesters is ridiculous. To throw them at a bunch of people who just want the memorials re-opened is absurd and offensive, no matter what you think of their cause.

Even if you disagreed with what Sarah Palin and Ted Cruz were saying, so what? People peacefully marching on Washington for whatever reason is a good thing. It’s not revolution or disobedience: it’s our right and duty as Americans to express our views. Abortion protesters have been protesting Roe v. Wade for forty years. They know they have little hope of ever overturning the law. But they feel the issue is important enough that they have to say their piece and maybe persuade some people to their side. What on Earth is wrong with that? That Obamacare is “settled law” means nothing. As far as I’m concerned, if you think a law is bad, you can peaceful protest it all by yourself until the Sun goes dark. You don’t need anyone’s permission, approval, or sanction to go to Washington and say you think our leadership stinks.

As far as the politicians go, I agree with Friersdorf, with the caveat that I only think this about the sub-protest with the politicians, not the main protest with the veterans. After supporting their overall intention of re-opening the monuments, he notes:

What actually bothers me most about this little rally is what it says about the priorities of Tea Party leaders like Cruz and Sarah Palin, and the rank-and-file conservative activists who trudged out to the World War II Memorial to protest its closure. They speak the language of liberty in expressing outrage at the metal barricades, insisting that it’s an insult to soldiers who risked their lives to beat the fascists.

Meanwhile, the Veterans Affairs Department has furloughed almost 8,000 employees (half are veterans). Its backlog of disability applications has been increasing for the duration. “The Pentagon says it no longer has authority to pay death gratuities—which is typically a cash payment of $100,000—to the survivors of servicemembers killed in action,” CBS reported last week. (Since then, Congress has passed and President Obama has signed a bill reinstating the benefit). And even when the federal government is functioning normally, it fails to adequately care for the veterans of Iraq and Afghanistan, who are suffering from high rates of suicide, PTSD, and joblessness, in large part due to the wars of choice they were asked to fight and that conservatives, who are still allied with a faction of haws urging even more wars of choice, overwhelmingly backed.

What I think, when I see that memorial closures are the thing that gets conservatives in the streets, is that movement leaders and rank-and-file activists alike cannot be counted on to identify and take on the most serious issues facing veterans, or the most serious threats to liberty. Instead they spend their time seizing on symbolic issues that promise to result in the best optics for a given news cycle—World War II veterans traveled to Washington and can’t visit the memorial dedicated to them! Think what victory would mean in this instance: The barricades would come down, which will happen anyway as soon as the government reopens. In other words, there’s no substantive upside for this particular rally, whether you’re concerned about benefitting veterans or safeguarding liberty. It was held so that Cruz and Palin could aggrandize themselves, so that conservatives could revel in their self-image as liberty loving patriots who honor veterans, and so that the Obama Administration would look bad. Protests are nothing more than political theater for these people. Or if they actually intend to effect change, their strategy verges on nonsensical.

Veterans marching on Washington is great. I hope they come out more often … not just for this but for all veterans issues. I hope they also come out whenever our leaders are flogging a stupid pointless war or shredding our liberty with ever more surveillance. Good on them.

Opportunistic politicians who helped create the problem in the first place preening for the cameras? No thank you.

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  1. CM

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  2. Section8

    So where were the democrat politicians to show their face for self promoting purposes? Were they just too dignified to engage in such things, since they aren’t known to show up to get togethers. Well, except for pretty much every event, but other than that.

    So let’s see Cruz does nothing except prop himself up, but yet he’s the force behind the shut down in response to Obama’s ability to change laws on the fly, but he does nothing, but when he does it’s bad. Let’s secretly hope Hillary wins the next election, because we don’t want these guys in charge. It sounds like they’ll actually fight for something.

    Cruz is extreme according to the so-called pro free market outside of the beltway blog and a haven for left wing commenters. God damn we need moderates! You know the same ones during the Bush administration who fought against any government reform. Shit it’s fucking bizarro world out there. Hey did you hear Christy has some big support from the Bush family these days? Maybe he can get elected and we can end up right back where we started, because after all that’s the best way to go about things.

    Sad fucking thing is Hal, too many people are now conditioned to believe that actually reducing government is “extreme”. Even the so-called free market libertarians. Or maybe the true ones still do, but labels are like shirts these days. Just put the one on that makes you look good for the day.

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  3. Mook

    Hal, can you link to where those on the left are having a go at the veterans (and not Palin/Cruz)?

    Outside of Fox News, almost every MSM outlet has reported on those protests EXCLUSIVELY on the one (it was just one, right?) confederate flag to smear the ENTIRE protest, including the elderly veterans. The protests against Bush, OTOH, had HUGE numbers of hate filled freaks holding signs portraying Bush as Hitler with vile ignorant claims that he invaded Iraq “for the oil”. Those were not outliers, they were TYPICAL of the protests against Bush.. at least here in the US

    I heard a liberal on Fox today refer to the rebel flag as “grotesque”. Grotesque? It’s about pride. Something that the Obama-supporting Walmart rioters have no concept of.

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  4. Mississippi Yankee

    “Opportunistic politicians who helped create the problem in the first place preening for the cameras? No thank you.”

    But Hal wasn’t it “Opportunistic politicians” of your preferred flavor the ones who put up those Barrycades? And isn’t it those same “Opportunistic politicians” that have instructed the NPS to continue to ‘make everyone suffer’? But in your opinion these vets need to stand alone right, they aren’t constituents of any congress person? Especially “preening” right-wing “Opportunistic politicians”. And exactly how did these “Opportunistic politicians” create this problem to begin with Hal? There have been 17 government shutdowns in the past 30 years. Yet NEVER once was an open-air memorial closed to the public. Fer Christ sake the people your making excuses for are not allowing visitors, mostly fellow Americans, to pull over and view Mt. Rushmore. or the Vietnam Wall.

    Tell us Hal which group of “Opportunistic politicians” is right now, stamping their feet, holding their breath and screaming “Respect my authoritah!?

    Neither conservative nor libertarian viewpoints coming from your keyboard lately. But still Lenin woulda loved you.

    Will you be telling us next that Obamacare is the “law of the Land” and would be un-american to challenge it?

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  5. Hal_10000 *

    Agree, Mook. Here’s Sullivan’s take: http://dish.andrewsullivan.com/2013/10/13/this-is-where-we-are/ He does not distinguish at all between the veterans rally and the political one.

    Reducing government is not extreme, S8. Shutting down the government for no readily apparent reason and threatening the debt ceiling is just stupid. It’s stupid politically, it’s stupid practically and it’s not conservative. At least when Gingrich shut the government down, we got a deficit deal out of it (and the deficit reduced). The dispute was over how we were going to do it. The GOP knew they weren’t going to get anything on Obamacare and shut the government down anyway. Why? The only reason I can fathom it lets them raise money off of the conservatives who think this is accomplishing anything. And then the architects of the shutdown don’t try to work out a deal with their fellow senators but scuttle down to the mall. Not to support the veterans but to give a bunch of speeches about Obamacare that the Million Veteran March people didn’t want. Read my second link.

    The “surrender caucus” has cut deals that made the first real progress on the deficit in a decade. Unfortunately, it looks like we may not get entitlement reform (they’re going to have a ninth God damned committee). But your hero Cruz has accomplished jack except making the Republicans more unpopular than they’ve ever been. I’ve been reserving my opinion of Cruz because of the ire flung against him by the Left. But this incident — expressed by one Republican as him shoving the GOP into traffic and walking away — has soured me on him for the time being. I expect more of a GOP leader than just burning the Democrats in speeches.

    MY, I have now written three posts criticizing Obama for shutting down open-air memorials. But would this be happening were the government not shut down? Would this be happening if the GOP had not changed parliamentary rules at the last minute to make sure a shutdown occurred? Do you not see the fundamental conflict in shutting down the government and then complaining about the way it has been shut down? Yes, the shutdown of the memorials is petty, stupid and political. That’s why I liked the vets march. But shutting down the government was petty, stupid and political, too. A fifth of the government workforce is on furlough. Many of the others are working for IOU’s. Vital programs such as the CDC’s flu monitoring (which saves thousands of lives every year) are on hold. That was the intended result of the shutdown. But you have no problem with that, apparently.

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  6. Section8

    The “surrender caucus” has cut deals that made the first real progress on the deficit in a decade. Unfortunately, it looks like we may not get entitlement reform (they’re going to have a ninth God damned committee).

    Well of course we are not going to get reform because the agreement to even talk about it was a farce from the beginning. Did Cruz screw up the master plan too? “Well they were just about to have a big breakthrough but…” And if and when they ever do talk about it, it will be taxes now for some smoke and mirror cuts some time down the road that will never happen. I can only tell you this because I have the power to see the future. My most noted ability is to predict the sun will rise in the east. I haven’t been wrong yet. I have other amazing abilities though. Here’s a secret. The Democrats have zero interest in reforming anything in a happy go lucky bi-partisan manner, no matter what Ezra tells you. It will have to be done with some amount of partisan fighting and it won’t be pretty. Period. And I know you won’t be up for that, and you know you won’t be up for that. Here’s another secret. The GOP hasn’t done shit for years, so when some start coming along who are actually willing to put up a fight, you don’t shit on them.

    The GOP knew they weren’t going to get anything on Obamacare and shut the government down anyway.

    I’m guessing they misunderstood that many “free-market” independents out there are content on forgiving Obama for unilaterally altering Obamacare and that he should not offer anything in return, and we should just forget about it. In fact, they misunderstood that these same folks would hop right on board and spin it so the (GOP) is at purely at fault for not negotiating, i.e. just accepting whatever Obama does as gospel, bending over and taking it up the ass, and then when they give in and reduce the demands (since the usual suspects run for the hills) then they are misguided and what did they really stand for?

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  7. CM

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  8. Section8

    Outside of Fox News, almost every MSM outlet has reported on those protests EXCLUSIVELY on the one (it was just one, right?) confederate flag to smear the ENTIRE protest,

    I think you are right it was just one. I’m waiting for the next few days to hear that it was a counter protester pulling their shit as usual. It’s no secret the left have brought racist signs to events such as this to stir up racism, because when they can’t find it, they make it up. Hate is their bread and butter.

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