Saturday, May 8, 2010

Three cheers and no cheers

The Cheers department

Give credit where credit is due: the Phoenix Suns professional basketball team is wearing jerseys with the words "Los Suns" to protest Arizona's harsh new illegal immigration statute. Among other things, the law allows -- encourages -- the police to stop anyone who might appear to be an illegal alien and demand proof of citizenship. This is, of course, an obvious invitation to racial, linguistic or cultural profiling.

It is rare that a sports team -- amateur or professional -- takes a stand on a political issue. Usually the most we can expect is the appearance of patches or armbands to call attention to a death or a disease -- hardly a controversial position.

Like so many places where the changing demographics have the traditional white power structure getting nervous, Arizona is making shriller and shriller reactionary noises and moves. The Republicans and TeaScreamers themselves see their power base getting narrower and narrower, so have resorted to more and more hyperbolic rhetoric in the hopes of cementing power -- at least temporarily -- through fear. It is their last best hope. If this country can only outlast them for a few more years...

The No Cheers department

The Pentagon wants to "contain" pay increases -- especially for healthcare -- for its human components, while keeping military hardware procurement on the fast and lucrative (for their contractors) track.

The Boston Globe reports:

"In the midst of two long-running wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, defense officials are increasingly worried that the government’s [Congress's] generosity [in providing generous pay and healthcare benefits] is unsustainable and that it will leave them with less money to buy weapons and take care of equipment."

Given that we are fighting two wars of choice with the blood of many of these men and women, the concept of not giving them competitive pay (their pay currently is not competitive with private sector compensation according to the Globe article) and benefits is totally outrageous. Just compare what they get with what police and firefighters get in most cities. If we can't afford to take care of these people, then we can't afford to fight these wars.

Of course, I am referring to those military personel who are actually facing danger, not those who are warming deskchairs.

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