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Tuesday, March 21, 2000

Smokey Briggs


By Smokey Briggs

Send everybody

to boot camp

"Boot Camp," has apparently become chic _ but military service hasn't fared so well in the last couple of years. That's the story, reported by the Associated Press last week.

Yuppie-corporate types are apparently flocking to pseudo-boot camp experiences where the little maggots pay big bucks to be physically treated like "boots" for a couple of hours, or even a week _ but certainly not long enough to interfere with their busy lives.

Without even blushing, these young men and women manage to praise the discipline and physical rigor of these programs, and then quickly brush aside any possibility of actually serving in the military _ too inconvenient.

Only a society that has managed to completely divorce military service from mainstream culture could develop such a phenomenon. And this does not say good things about our society.

Edward Gibbon wrote about this same phenomenon in his, "Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire." Gradually Rome evolved from a nation where military service was mandatory and expected of its citizens, to a nation where military service was considered beneath a citizen's station in life _ something you paid less important people to do. Gradually foreign mercenaries became the backbone of the legions, rather than Roman citizens.

Eventually, Rome paid the price for this when they discovered that you couldn't pay someone to die for you _ that soldiers not supported by higher ideals like patriotism tend to run when the odds look long.

When the barbarians were at the gates, the Romans looked to their legions, only to find that the legions were populated by the same barbarians battering down the gates _ and joining their brethren looked a lot better than fighting them.


We are heading in the same direction.

Bringing back the draft would be a good step in preventing this terminal decay.

The draft forces kids from all walks of life into military service _ smart and dumb, wealthy and poor. In the long run everyone profits. I've never talked to anyone who didn't gain something from his experience in the military.

America as a nation would gain the most. Her military would be stronger as a broader cross section of her young men stepped up and did their duty _ rather than having an increasingly large percentage of recruits who simply can't find a job that get mixed with the patriotic few who sacrifice their career for awhile to do their duty.

Just as important, a large portion of mainstream society would have direct experience with the military. They would know the hardships of deployment overseas firsthand. They would have permanently impressed own their minds the consequences of politicians' actions hold for regular men like themselves.

When they went to the polls to vote, this empathy with the next generation of soldiers might just come into play. We might elect a few leaders who didn't think the military was a political tool for distracting the public, or simply a semi-necessary evil to be scorned and shortchanged in favor of more handouts for the lazy.

On the downside, a few folks might lose jobs. Men who have been through a real boot camp probably aren't going to pay a retired drill sergeant to yell at them while they do a few push-ups before work.

EDITOR'S NOTE: Smokey Briggs is the editor and publisher of the Pecos Enterprise whose column appears on Tuesdays. He can be e-mailed at:

Your View

Politicians prey on helpless elderly voters

Letter to the Editor:
Our elderly, 65 and over voters of Reeves County are continiuosly becoming victims of the worst unscrupulous and unethical practice on the part of the campaigners and candidates who election year after election year prey on these helpless citizens. They harrass, hound, threaten and intimidate these voters to no end and with no witnesses to their "deeds". Politics are taking advantage of the "vote by Mail" method where people can vote at home.

What started as a service and was implemented as a plan to help those that could not get to the polls to cast their vote and be heard has become a market for free votes for some of the politicians of this community. Some of the politicians and their campaigners have decidedly turned this service into a farce and an exploitive practice that shouldn't be tolerated by honest, concerned citizens in our community.

These so called "politicians" invite themselves into these voters' homes invading their privacy, pretending to be there to help, but instead they pick and choose and punch the ballot at will, voting for themselves, of course, and ignoring the request of the elderly, perhaps illiterate or even blind or semi-blind voter, thus taking their right to cast his own vote freely.

Some of these "helpers" vote only for one person, THEMSELVES. Depriving the voter of voting for other important issues or for all other candidates on the ballot, as long as the selfish purpose is accomplished who cares? What happened to "Honesty and Integrity " printed on every politician's card?

The illiterate, the disabled and the Senior Citizens of our community are deserving of our respect. Why then are we allowing them to be plagued, exploited, harrassed, intimidated and lied to so openly by the very people who are pledging trust, honesty and integrity, people in our own comunity pretending to help?..

By politicians intimidating the needy with messages of Food Stamp control, and other benefits being affected if they do not vote the politic's way. Please advise these voters that County Commissioners and county elected officials have no authority or control over State or Federal programs for the needy.

We are not in Guatemala, we should be able to run a fair and clean election for the benefit of our good citizens of Reeves County, without preying and pouncing on the helpless. We are the middle of the great USA, the only country in the world with a free democracy! Please allow these few to cast their vote freely. STOP the abuse of the powerless, the illiterate and the elderly. I am addressing the candidates, men and women running for positions in these elections to please give our older citizens back the respect they deserve and the right to vote as THEY PLEASE, NOT AS YOU PLEASE!

"Honesty and Integrity " is that you proclaim and promise the voters.

Practice it! It isn't just a slogan!

Austin, Texas

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