Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Bush To Wounded Troops: Drop Dead & Shut Up

Dissing our wounded vets

2 stories in the Army Times over the past week, by Kelly Kennedy, make quite clear how the Bush administration really feels about the troops who have sacrificed their health and, in many cases their limbs, for the George W. Bush war games.

On February 20th the Army Times reported that wounded vets were getting shafted on health care.

Kennedy detailed the experience of seriously wounded 20-year old Pvt. Robert Van Antwerp, who lost 2 friends in an explosion that "fractured his skull, ruptered his spleen and ripped out his colon."

According to the report:
"Yet when it was time for the Army to take care of him, one of its wounded warriors, Van Antwerp gave up before he even began. Rather than fight for a higher disability rating, he quietly signed for 20 percent — and no medical benefits — saying he knew he couldn’t do better. He inherited his father’s stubbornness, he said, and refused to ask anyone to pull strings based on his dad’s rank. Then his first medical board counselor, the person who would help him make his way through the medical evaluation board system, left. The second, he said, 'wasn’t on the ball.'

"'The Army is trying to give you the lowest amount of money possible,' he said. 'A lot of people are appealing, but I’ll be going to [the Department of Veterans Affairs]. I want to go home.'

"Van Antwerp is one of thousands of wounded troops rushed from the war zone for health care and then stranded in administrative limbo. They are at the mercy of a medical evaluation system that’s agonizingly slow, grossly understaffed and saddled with a growing backlog of cases. The wounded soldiers, sailors, airmen and Marines are stuck in holding companies awaiting hearings and decisions on whether they will continue their military service or be discharged, and if so, at what level of benefits — if any."
That article painted a disturbing picture about how our wounded Iraqi and Afghani war veterans were essentially left to fend for themselves upon their return.

Understaffed and out of touch

Part of the problem is attributed to understaffing, but part of it is also attributed to a system that is certainly not set up to look after the best interests of the men and women who have sacrificed their bodies and psyches in service to our country.

Also telling is the total lack of empathy and reality from officials.

For example, that article referred to
"Col. Ronald Hamilton, commander of the medical center brigade at Walter Reed", who "beamed when asked about the work done through the medical evaluation board.'

"'I think it’s being handled extremely well,' he said. 'There are some outliers, where it takes longer than we would expect it to, but we’re not saying, ‘You’re at 365 days — we need to process you out.’ We’re trying to do what’s best for each soldier.'"
Sounds like a man after Bush and Cheney's own heart.

The attempt to punish the wounded and wronged

One would think such an expose would shame Bushco and his war machine to switch into high gear to make things right.

Well, they have switched into high gear all punishing soldiers and going into cover up mode.

In today's article in the Army Times, in a report titled "Walter Reed patients told to keep quiet," Kennedy writes:
"Soldiers at Walter Reed Army Medical Center’s Medical Hold Unit say they have been told they will wake up at 6 a.m. every morning and have their rooms ready for inspection at 7 a.m., and that they must not speak to the media.

"'Some soldiers believe this is a form of punishment for the trouble soldiers caused by talking to the media,' one Medical Hold Unit soldier said, speaking on the condition of anonymity."
Additionally, patients are being moved to a building that will have much harder access by the media and media coverage has been shut down, under the excuse that it cannot occur while an ongoing investigation is taking place. According to the most recent report, planned projects by both CNN and the Discovery Channel have been suspended.

No comment?

Most telling, "as of Tuesday afternoon, Army public affairs did not respond to a request sent Sunday evening to verify the personnel changes."

Everybody should be petitioning their local representatives in Washington to have the administration answer this outrage.

Could it be any clearer how much George Bush and his chickenhawk warriors hate the troops?

The 2 Army Times reports can be accessed both here and here.

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Patriot Games

The GOP, led by Smearer-in-Chief Dick Cheney, has once again played the 'treason card.' Only this time they're getting called out on it.

In an interview with ABC News earlier today, Mr. Cheney made the following unfortunate comment:
"I think (Rep. John Murtha's) dead wrong. I think if we were to do what Speaker Pelosi and Congressman Murtha are suggesting, all we'll do is validate the al Qaeda strategy.

"The al Qaeda strategy is to break the will of the American people. In fact, knowing they can't win in a stand-up fight, try to convince us to throw in the towel and come home and then they win because we quit."
In other words, if one does not support the misguided war-mongering policy of the Bush Administration, one is aiding and abetting the enemy. His comments cannot be taken any other way.

Cheney just following Bush's lead

One can hardly blame Mr. Cheney for feeling he was safe to make such brazen remarks, because he knows the GOP has gotten away with it every single time. In fact, Cheney's comments are in lockstep with the following remark that that other great war hero, George W. Bush, told an audience at Georgia Southern University, shortly before Election Day:
"However they put it, the Democrat approach in Iraq comes down to this: The terrorists win and America loses."
The 'scare America' strategy failed miserably for the neo-cons in the last election, but they continue the mantra today.

Fighting back

What I find refreshing is the Democratic response and the fact that the media is choosing to cover it. Amazing what majority status will do in effecting news coverage.

Nancy Pelosi, responding to Cheney's comments, said
"You cannot say as the president of the United States, 'I welcome disagreement in a time of war,' and then have the vice president of the United States go out of the country and mischaracterize a position of the speaker of the House and in a manner that says that person in that position of authority is acting against the national security of our country."
I first feared that Pelosi was giving Bush too much credit. Surely she remembered his comments as well.

However, what is really going on here is that the Dems are finally shining a light on the dangerous un-American comments by the neo-cons and calling attention to how truly unpatriotic those comments are. Additionally, those comments are finally resonating.

Considering that the vast majority of Americans disapprove of the Bush war games, they will be even less pleased when they are told opposition to the Bush escalation makes them cheerleaders for al Qaeda.

When pulling out is a good thing

To add to the unreality of Dick "the insurgency is in its last throes" Cheney, are his comments regarding Great Britain.

This is what Cheney told ABC newsman Jonathan Karl, regarding British plans to reduce troops by 1600 over the next few months, to a level which could be as low as 5,000 troops come summer:
"Well, I look at it and see it is actually an affirmation that there are parts of Iraq where things are going pretty well.

"In fact, I talked to a friend just the other day who had driven to Baghdad down to Basra, seven hours, found the situation dramatically improved from a year or so ago, sort of validated the British view they had made progress in southern Iraq and that they can therefore reduce their force levels."
What I am still waiting for journalists to challenge Cheney on is the question of why those troops would not be redeployed to other parts of Iraq, where increased troops are allegedly so badly needed.

The fact that British troops will soon be down to an even more miniscule presence should really cause us to examine the utter lunacy of the Bush 'surge.'

Maybe we should retire the phrase 'coalition of the willing.'

How about the 'dissolution that is chilling?'

Trying to prevent the next invasion

The neo-cons will continue to run our country straight into the ground, unless we take a stand at every turn and put up some roadblocks.

In that respect, what Speaker Pelosi did was dead-on.

We have to make sure, in this case, that the media will continue to report on challenges to such horrendous comments by the Bush/Cheney cabal.

Maybe they will even have the spine to make some challenges of their own.

Before Bush attacks Iran.

Sunday, February 11, 2007

Anna Nicole Smith & The Vampires

Anna Nicole we hardly knew ye.

Outside of the shallow, tawdry, self-obsessed side you paraded in public, that is.

I do not deny that the latter part of your life was reduced to tragedy. No new mother should be greeted by the death of another child, in the hospital room, no less.
And, of course, your death was especially untimely.

I'm not sure why you were so far away from your 5-month old daughter when you died, but I'm sure you had your reasons. Your daughter, hopefully, was being well-cared for.

The story that sucked the life out of all other news

Anna Nicole's death occurred on Thursday, February 8th.

As of February 9th, 3095 troops had died in Iraq. On the 9th, the New York Times, to their credit, listed the names of the 2 most recent victims, 24-year old Joshua Frazier and 20-year old Jennifer Parcell.

However, that is about the only place where you'll read about those 2 victims of a war for oil. You certainly won't hear about them, or any of the other victims on the 3-ring circus we call the cable news outlets.

No, on CNN, MSNBC and Fox, you will barely even hear about Iraq.


Because ever since her demise, it has been all Anna Nicole Smith, all of the time.

Vampires to the left, vampires to the right

It's not even just the vampires in the news media. Apparently, certain allegedly 'progressive' pundits also think this was the only story. More than one genius who posts on The Huffington Post thought it would be cute to write a column stating that he was the real father of Anna Nicole's unfortunate daughter.

Seriously, there was nothing more important to write about?

So, in that spirit, here is my piece on Anna Nicole Smith.

Sorry it can't be 24/7 like the cable news networks, but I'm not looking to achieve ratings.

I just hope some of the people who have chosen to make this an ongoing circus will actually begin to realize that there is a 5-month old little girl whose life is being ruined before it ever has had a chance to truly begin.

So go ahead Brent Budowsky...go ahead Ken Levine...get those hilarious pieces about paternity out of your system.

I am sure that a greater point is probably being made, especially by Mr. Budowsky. I did see some semblance of media parody in the piece.

Tragically-shortened lives I would like to read about

To be quite honest, I find the Smith story repugnant. It does not deserve to obliterate some of the truly important ongoing stories, so that America can get its fill of salaciousness.

If I want to read about somebody who has recently died a tragic death, I would at least like to see a couple of sentences written about Mr. Frazier or Ms. Parcell.

Something tells me it would be far more compelling and meaningful.

Something else tells me it's never gonna happen.

Thursday, February 08, 2007

The Straight And Narrow World Of Ted Haggard

Ted Haggard, the right-wing evangelist who gave added meaning to the word 'hypocrisy,' has been miraculously cured of his homosexual urges.

That's right. After 3 grueling weeks of counseling, Rev. Haggard has announced that he is "completely heterosexual."

Any straighter and he'd be a ruler

No shadings of Kinsey here. No possibility of being the teensiest bit light in his loafers. No bisexuality. This man is not taking the Anne Heche highway. No more hard feelings at the thought of getting a massage from male prostitutes who only advertise in gay magazines. Nope. Haggard is 100% over it. Can you say Hallelujah, thank you Jay-sus?

For those who somehow missed the initial story, which I covered here, Mr. Haggard was fired as pastor of his church and resigned his position as president of the National Association of Evangelicals, after gay escort Mike Jones revealed that the good reverend had paid for sex and also indulged in crystal meth.

After stonewalling, Haggard finally admitted to what he referred to as "sexual immorality" with Jones, but regarding the meth, claimed he didn't inhale.

According to the latest revelations, the fact that Haggard's homosexual contact was allegedly limited to a single male prostitute is helpful confirmation that this man would much prefer to engage in a Tom Cruise/Katie Holmes-style relationship...with Katie, of course.

Coming soon to a self-hating gay man near you

What is scary about pastor Haggard opening up to select members of his flock, and the Denver Post, regarding his plans, is what he is preparing for.

According to the paper, Haggard and his wife will be taking online courses so that they both can eventually earn master's degrees in psychology.

You see where this is going, don't you?

Quicker than you can say, 'Jesus I can make a lot of cash off of self-loathing individuals,' do not be surprised to see Haggard promising to cure others of the dreaded curse of homosexuality.

That future course was being hinted at by H.B.London, a counselor for the homophobic organization Focus on the Family.

The Post quotes London as saying:
"Many of us that go into the healing, helping professions do so out of some sort of dysfunction or traumatic event in our lives, and we want to do what we can to help other people avoid what we've gone through. He is certainly gifted and intelligent and has an intuitive side to him. And he has life experience. Those are good credentials."
Besides, what better way for Rev. Haggard to hook up with closeted gay men?

Opening the floodgates

Either way, let's hope the 'completely heterosexual' comment is not the start of a trend.

Otherwise, next thing you know, we'll be hearing from Michael Jackson, announcing that he isn't really white. Perhaps Mel Gibson will wax poetic over the joys of circumcision and declare that it was actually a good thing that the Jews killed Jesus. Yeah, Michael...gotcha Mel...and yes, Ted...we get it. You've got the cure.

Praise the Lord.

And pass the KY, please.