Profiteering On America's Grunts

It's time for another "Gooberhead Award" – presented periodically to those in the news who have their tongues going 100-miles-per-hour... but who forgot to put their brains in gear.

Today's "Goober" goes to Washington lobbyist Frank Keating. He's the former right-wing governor of Oklahoma who tried to get a top political job in the Bush regime, but ethical problems disqualified him. So Frank sank to a lower ethical strata, hiring on to hustle legislative favors for life insurance corporations.

Appallingly, Frank recently stood up for several insurance firms that are engaged in a shabby insider deal to fleece young American soldiers who are on their way to war in Iraq. Often posing as military instructors in personal finance, insurance agents from these corporations have duped unwitting young troops into buying rip-off life insurance policies that are unneeded and nearly worthless.

It's an abominable, totally unethical act of war profiteering. But here came Keating, the industry mouthpiece, to blame the victims: "Someone who is mature enough to fight and quite possibly die for their country," Frank pompously intoned, "should be freely able to decide how much and what kind of life insurance they should have."

What a Goober. He knows that this is not about free markets or free will. These low-ranking solders are set up for the insurance predators. The sales pitch often comes as part of compulsory military "classes," the soldiers are not even told they're buying insurance, and many of the insurance agents are retired military officers. These 18-19-20 year old soldiers, conditioned to obeying the commands of senior officers, believe that retired Col. So-and-So is telling them something they must do – so they sign without questioning.

Yet Keating is still lobbying congress to let his corporate clients continue picking the pockets of the underpaid grunts heading to Iraq. Is this the "freedom" they're being asked to die for?

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