Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Things that make me sick ...

One of the worst is watching this idiot placing the wreath at the Tomb of the Unknowns.

Pic stolen from C & L.

And Bob Geiger says it just about right:

Dead Troops Remembered By President Who Had Them Killed

Yes, that's a harsh headline for this piece.

But I'll ask you to forgive me because, as a Veteran, there isn't a day on the calendar that causes my hatred -- and I do indeed mean hatred -- of George W. Bush to bubble over the top more than Memorial Day.


The Chickenhawk-in Chief says a lot of things that make this Vet's blood boil but stuff like saying that he prays "...that our country may always prove worthy of the sacrifices they have made" is almost vomit inducing.


Makes me wanna puke too, pal.

Cross-posted at the Brain.

Monday, May 26, 2008

Some Folks Get It...

Billionaire treats wounded soldiers to Vegas weekend

LAS VEGAS — All too familiar with the gambles of war, Jimmy Kinsey, Kyle Riley and a few dozen fellow soldiers landed in the desert. But for these guys this Memorial Day, the most at stake is a few bucks.

The soldiers-turned-high rollers took a private jet to Las Vegas over the weekend for an all-expenses-paid getaway with all the perks normally saved for casinos' richest regulars.

They were greeted at the airport by Wayne Newton, chilled backstage with the guys from Blue Man Group and hobnobbed with Sheldon Adelson, the billionaire casino mogul who runs Las Vegas Sands Corp. and paid for the trip.

The trip, organized by the Armed Forces Foundation, brought 40 wounded soldiers from Walter Reed Army Medical Center in Washington and the National Naval Medical Center at Bethesda, Md., to the Venetian Resort Hotel Casino on the Las Vegas Strip.

"I'm gonna be bragging about this for a long while," said Kinsey, 23, while hanging out in his penthouse overlooking the nearby Wynn Golf Course. Each of the soldiers, mostly in their 20s, stayed in a penthouse, and several who came alone got one to themselves.

Kinsey, a Marine corporal from Foley, Ala., who lost part of his left leg to an improvised explosive device in Iraq in 2006, said he hadn't spent too much time gambling — just a few slots.

"On a scale from one to 10 I gave this trip a 15 when I got on the plane," he said.

Riley, a 21-year-old from Catlett, Va., who also lost part of his left leg to an IED in Iraq, was so overwhelmed by the trip he decided with his fiancee, Alyssa Mergler, to make it their wedding weekend. They planned to wed Monday on a gold and white gondola, courtesy of Adelson, whom Mergler said insisted on having his staff handle the plans.

Mergler, 21, said a wedding coordinator showed up at their suite with a thick book of flower choices.

"I don't have the money to do that," said Riley, who asked Kinsey to be his best man.

Armed Forces Foundation officials said the trip was a dream distraction from the everyday life at the hospitals, where the soldiers lived while recovering from their injuries.

Armed Forces Foundation spokesman Doug Stone said the trip would be the first of many, and said Adelson wanted to eventually extend the all-expenses-paid offer to every veteran who had been admitted to the two hospitals.

A spokesman for Adelson said the executive was not available for comment because he was traveling.


On the Net:

Armed Forced Foundation: http://www.armedforcesfoundation.org

Venetian: http://www.venetian.com

If you enjoy Casino's, may I suggest patronizing the VenetianOrganization. Even if you don't, a short e-mail of appreciation will ensure that this wonderful show of respect for our Veterans continues.

Semper Fi!


Not to put too fine a point on it ...

The Normandy American Cemetery - Normandy, France

But Memorial Day is not a 'happy' holiday.

Memorial Day is a time to reflect on the people who sacrificed their lives so you can live the life you do in this country.

Especially this year, the 6th since the War in Iraq began, when over 4000 of our service people have died, not to protect this nation or our way of life but in an illegal, unjustified provocation. 4000 dead for nothing. 4000 lives wasted.

I'll have a 'happy' Memorial Day when Bush, Cheney, and their minions are in a dock in The Hague.

Cross-posted at the Brain.

Thursday, May 22, 2008

McCains Votes On Vets Issues

John McCain once stood for something honorable. Today he is a sorry shell of the man he used to be. His lack of a vote on Senator Webb's Expanded G.I. Bill and his comments backing President Bush's threatened veto, make me wonder how any veteran can consider him to be worthy of being president.

Senator McCain was in California for two, count ‘em T-W-O, fundraisers when he should have been doing his job as a U.S. Senator and been standing by his shipmates to make sure they can get an education. His education was free to him because we taxpayers paid for his four years at the U.S. Naval Academy. Yet he doesn't want to give any of those benefits to those that already have served. They have a name for people like that - hypocrite.

Here are some more details on Senator McCains dismal record regarding votes on veterans issues by Brian Beutler in The Nation. Deep into the article, I find these tidbits

"John McCain voted against veterans in 2004, '05, '06 and '07," says Jeffrey David Cox, who spent twenty-two years as a VA nurse

During a March 2005 Senate budget debate, McCain voted to kill an amendment that would have "increase[d] veterans medical care by $2.8 billion in 2006.

In September 2006 McCain voted to table an amendment to a Defense appropriations bill that would have prevented the department from contracting out support services at Walter Reed. The amendment was indeed tabled--by a vote of fifty to forty-eight, the sort of margin a true veterans' senator might have been able to flip if he really cared about veterans' healthcare.

McCain voted against an amendment that would have "increase[d] Veterans medical services funding by $1.5 billion in FY 2007 to be paid for by closing corporate tax loopholes." Two days after it failed, he voted to kill "an assured stream of funding for veterans' health care that [would] take into account the annual changes in the veterans' population and inflation to be paid for by restoring the pre-2001 top rate for income over $1 million, closing corporate tax loopholes and delaying tax cuts for the wealthy." That amendment died quietly, forty-six to fifty-four.

The very good news is that the Webb Bill leaves the Senate on a resounding 75 yeas v. 22 nays. That's called veto proof.

Monday, May 19, 2008

Supporting the troops ...

In their usual style. The Chimp threatens to veto the Webb GI Bill when it gets to his desk. Says Sen. Webb:

... And then we see this president, he’s fine with sending these people over and over again where they’re spending more time in Iraq than they are at home. He’s fine with the notion of stop loss, where we can, we can make people stay in even after enlistments are done. And then we say, “Give them the same benefit that the people in World War II have,” and they say it’s too expensive.


As opposed to tax breaks and subsidies for the oil companies, right? As opposed to tax cuts for the rich?

Cross-posted at the Brain.

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

The Truth About Veteran Suicides

Here's some excerpts from an article on a huge problem that is not being adequately addressed, and the huge cover-up of it, in Foreign Policy In Focus:

Eighteen American war veterans kill themselves every day. One thousand former soldiers receiving care from the Department of Veterans Affairs attempt suicide every month. More veterans are committing suicide than are dying in combat overseas.

These are statistics that most Americans don't know, because the Bush administration has refused to tell them. Since the start of the Iraq War, the government has tried to present it as a war without casualties.

We should all be angry about what has gone on here, Filner said. This is a matter of life and death for the veterans that we are responsible for and I think there was criminal negligence in the way this was handled. If we do not admit, assume or know then the problem will continue and people will die. If thats not criminal negligence, I dont know what is.

Its also part of a pattern. The high number of veteran suicides werent the only government statistics the Bush Administration was forced to reveal because of the class action lawsuit.

Another set of documents presented in court showed that in the six months leading up to March 31, a total of 1,467 veterans died waiting to learn if their disability claim would be approved by the government. A third set of documents showed that veterans who appeal a VA decision to deny their disability claim have to wait an average of 1,608 days, or nearly four and a half years, for their answer.

Other casualty statistics are not directly concealed, but are also not revealed on a regular basis. For example, the Pentagon regularly reports on the numbers of American troops wounded in Iraq (currently at 31,948) but neglects to mention that it has two other categories injured (10,180) and ill (28,451). All three of these categories represent soldiers who are so damaged physically they have to be medically evacuated to Germany for treatment, but by splitting the numbers up the sense of casualties down the public consciousness.

Heres another number that we dont often hear discussed in the media: 287,790. Thats the number of returning Iraq and Afghanistan war veterans who had filed a disability claim with the Veterans Administration as of March 25th. That figure was not announced to the public at a news conference, but obtained by Veterans for Common Sense using the Freedom of Information Act.

Why all the secrecy? Why is it so hard to get accurate casualty figures out of our government? Because the Bush Administration knows if Americans woke up to the real, human costs of this war they would fight harder to oppose it.

According to an April 2008 study by the Rand Corporation, 300,000 Iraq and Afghanistan war veterans currently suffer from post traumatic stress disorder or major depression. Another 320,000 suffer from traumatic brain injury, physical brain damage. A majority are not receiving help from the Pentagon and VA system which are more concerned with concealing unpleasant facts than they are with providing care.

In its study, the RAND Corporation wrote that the federal government fails to care for war veterans at its own peril - noting post traumatic stress disorder and traumatic brain injury can have far reaching and damaging consequences.

Bush and Congress have the power to stop this problem before it gets worse. Its not too late to extend needed mental health care to our returning Iraq and Afghanistan war veterans; its not too late to begin properly screening and treating returning servicemen and women whove experienced a traumatic brain injury; and it is not too late to simplify the disability claims process so that wounded veterans do not die waiting for their check. As the Rand study shows, this isnt only in the best interest of veterans, its in the best interest of our country in the long run.

To start with, the Bush Administration needs to give us some honest information about the true human costs of the Iraq War.

Well, that isn't going to happen, and neither will Veterans get the services they need and deserve from the current regime. They only care about money going to the military industrial complex, which includes themselves, and control of oil. They care not one whit about the human carnage they have created in the lust for profit. After all, it's other people's kids who've been dying and suffering. The administration has lied and conned them into volunteering by disguising their true agenda and wrapping it in the flag. They pay great lip service to 'support the troops', but it's just more of the lies and bullshit that characterize the Bush junta.

I am down-deep certain that someone, somewhere, in this administration is hoping, perhaps to a level of policy, that if enough Veterans kill themselves, die awaiting treatment that may never come, get locked up, or just shut the fuck up and stay out of sight, the problem will go away. Not having served themselves, they don't understand Veterans very well. Not being good human beings, they don't understand obligation to those they've hurt either.

This is just one more mess they've left for the next and subsequent administrations to deal with. And those had better.

As a nation, we will be cleaning out Bush's stables for the next generation and beyond, and I hope the crap lands right on those responsible, but I'm sure that in the world of reality they'll duck it and prosper as always. Dammit.


Crossposted at Alternate Brain.

Monday, May 12, 2008

Betraying The Troops Is Big Bucks

Go see this video interview. Put something in between your teeth so you don't grind them to dust.

In their recent book "Betraying Our Troops: The Destructive Results of Privatizing War," Dina Rasor and Robert Bauman present firsthand accounts of fraud, deception, negligence and treachery by contractors during the privatized invasion and occupation of Iraq.

This is the first war that was designed to rely on contractors - private companies with profit as their top priority - for transportation, food, water, spare parts and even protection. As a result, according to Rasor and Bauman, the government has been bilked out of billions of dollars, Americans and Iraqis have suffered and died, and the war effort as a whole has been deeply weakened.

Dina Rasor founded the Project On Governmental Oversight and now serves on the board of directors. She sat down with me to discuss the ongoing problems with military contracting and the complete lack of fraud prosecution at the Department of Justice.

For more information on Rasor and Bauman's work, visit Follow the Money Project.

Crossposted at Alternate Brain.

Sunday, May 11, 2008

Dear Brothers,

I promised myself that when I began to feel better the first thing I'd write would be a post to all of you on API's new page...

So I went online and looked up and down all of my links for the API link and couldn't find it. I KNEW that I had added the link a month ago, right after I had dental surgery. What happened to it? Vicodin happened. I guess I only THOUGHT that I had put the link in. I lost a lot of stuff around the house too, while on pain meds. Anyway, I've added the link under the API photos at the "Chronicles".

Like a cat, I've been off licking my wounds and healing for a while. Similar to so many events in life, my dental surgery snowballed into another physical problem. So that one had to be dealt with as well.

The Vicodin led me to another issue - sleep - or rather the lack of sleep. I haven't slept well at all during my adult life due to what happened to me as a child. The EMDR has helped considerable with the nightmares, but I still was not getting any rest. When I was taking the Vicodin, I noticed that I was actually sleeping but was still so tired that it was really scaring me.

I called the doctor to see if I could take something to help me sleep and went in for an appointment. The doctor told me that I was tired from the surgery but it was a lot worse because I had a serious sleep deficit. She prescribed a low dose of Trazodone and told me that I had to stop and rest whenever my body told me to. As someone who easily disassociates, I now had to pay attention. I rested frequently and for long periods. She said it would take time - boy it sure did!

I am finally almost to a good level of energy as I am getting some real sleep. I have altered my diet while trying to manage with the temporary dentures but also am eating with health in mind.

I have not been online much except to download some information for a pamphlet I am working on - so haven't been entirely lazy. The pamphlet will be used to educate soccer moms and other folks who seem to have no idea about the types of weapons (or the effects of those weapons) used by the US against civilian populations during military operations. I am focusing on incendiary weapons, cluster munitions, and depleted uranium and will also add Agent Orange into the mix to illustrate the type of weapon that keeps on "giving". I hope to do an informative pamphlet with links that can be explored for further info. I used to do some public speaking and may see if I can speak to groups of women. The printed material could be passed out during VFP events where we do a table or at a speaking event.

This will all take time, but I am pretty determined. If anyone has some info to contribute (I am trying to educate myself in the above mentioned areas) please let me know.

I thank you for all of your support. I missed blogging and all of you.
.......................Kitchen Window Woman....................................

Friday, May 9, 2008

Flag criminals ... revisited

For anyone who's ambivalent about the flag officer 'analysts' who go on the news to give their 'opinion', Media Matters will set you straight:

Following the publication of the April 20 New York Times front-page article on the hidden ties between media military analysts and the Pentagon, the Department of Defense has released to the public numerous documents regarding the analyst program. One of the documents released is an audio recording of an April 18, 2006, meeting that several military analysts attended with then-Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld and Gen. Peter Pace, then Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. During the meeting, one of the attendees tells Rumsfeld, "[W]e get beat up on television sometimes when we go on and we are debating" and says that he would "personally love" for Rumsfeld "to take the offensive, to just go out there and just crush these people so that when we go on, we're -- forgive me -- we're parroting, but it's what has to be said. It's what we believe in, or we would not be saying it." The individual adds: "And we'd love to be following our leader, as indeed you are. You are the leader. You are our guy." The transcript released by the Pentagon does not identify the person who made this comment; the Pentagon has provided this list of "confirmed" "[p]articipants." Media Matters for America has documented the consistent unwillingness of most of the outlets mentioned in the Times article to discuss the military analyst story. Will media outlets try to determine if they have hosted the person who asserted that Rumsfeld was "our guy" and suggested that he would "parrot[]" Rumsfeld's statements? [my ems]


And just a thought: If they actually believed that war in Iraq was "the right thing", I'm glad none of 'em ever was my CO. Come on, if an old Buck Sergeant (me) knew beforehand that the war would turn into a mess, these guys surely did. They should be hanging from the same tree as the civilians in the Bush administration.

Great thanks to Nicole for the link. Cross-posed at the Brain.

Thursday, May 8, 2008

Gun to their heads ...

Via our pal Montag, seems DoD is using soldiers' pay as leverage over Congress to pass the latest war appropriation:

In an announcement that puts troops and their families in the middle of a political dispute, a Pentagon spokesman said Tuesday that the Army will not be able to pay soldiers after June 15 unless Congress approves an emergency war funding bill.


How about putting war expenditures on the federal budget instead of trying to pay for them out of the petty cash box? How about giving us some idea of how the money will be spent and how much more you'll need until we get out of there? As the Chimp likes to say when he pushes his tax cuts "it's the taxpayers' money". This war started out as a 6 month, $50 billion effort. Five years and hundreds of billions (if not trillions) of dollars later, not to mention over 4000 US lives, and they're holding the soldiers hostage for appropriations. Nothing is beneath these assholes.


[Rep. John] Murtha said there is no threat to military paychecks and that it is inappropriate for the Pentagon to try to involve soldiers and their families in a political dispute over how much money is needed to pay for ongoing operations in Iraq and Afghanistan and exactly when the money is needed.


Murtha said threatening paychecks is a mistake. “It is unacceptable for them to say something like that,” he said. “It is unacceptable for the Pentagon to make a political statement like that, scaring troops and their families in time of war. [my em]


20 January can't come soon enough.

Cross-posted at the Brain.

Saturday, May 3, 2008

Thanks To You - It's Working!

Last week I asked you to sign a petition supporting the GI Bill for the 21st Century, and you did! Now more is needed. Please follow the links below and let's make sure McInsane's watered down Bill is defeated!



Dear VoteVets.org Supporter,

Wow! Last week, we asked you to write to the Senate, urging them to support the bipartisan GI Bill for the 21st Century, and reject a watered down bill offered by John McCain, Lindsey Graham, and Richard Burr. You responded - with force - sending 16,000 letters to the Senate! Add that to the 30,000 petition signatures on the GI Bill that we took to the Hill, and op-eds around the country that our veterans have written on the GI Bill, and we are dominating efforts to get a new GI Bill passed.

Now it's time to take it to the next level, and get a letter to the editor in every daily newspaper in America!


Letters to the editor are the most read part of the paper, so when you submit a letter, it will be read by tens of thousands of your friends and neighbors. If we can get a letter to the editor in papers across the country, it's the strongest message we can send that we will not allow the Senate to cave on such important legislation for our veterans. With all of you - 95,000 people strong - blanketing newspapers with letters to the editor is a goal we can reach.

The stakes couldn't be higher. The bipartisan new GI Bill (S. 22) is poised to pass the Congress and go to the President. It will update GI Bill benefits to keep up with the cost of college, allowing those who served in Iraq and Afghanistan to get the higher education that we've promised our veterans since World War II. Senators McCain, Graham, and Burr, by introducing legislation that would cut the benefits in S. 22, are attempting to split the Senate, so nothing gets passed, and our veterans' service is not honored.


Our Letter to the Editor tool is easy to use. Just plug in your zip code, use our talking points to write a quick letter, and hit send. That's it! In just a couple of days, your letter could be in the daily paper, read by thousands and thousands of people!

Please take a second, today, to take this quick action to help our veterans.

Thank you for your support.


Jon Soltz
Iraq War Veteran
Chairman, VoteVets.org

Thursday, May 1, 2008

Senate Rejects Boosting Health Insurance Premiums

The Senate Armed Services Committee is working hard to keep the promise that was made to me and millions of other military retirees regarding free health care for life. In The Virginian-Pilot today, here is the lead paragraph
A Senate committee has rejected Pentagon proposals to boost the health insurance premiums paid by more than 3 million military retirees, stripping the plan out of legislation setting a wide range of Defense Department policies.

If you read to the bottom, you'll see that the committee is not pleased with the condition of the Navy's ships.

Mission Accomplished ...

Pic thanks to Digby.

Five years on ...

"in the Battle of Iraq, the United States and our allies have prevailed."

I'd hate to see what losing looks like.

Cross-posted at the Brain.