U.S. Troops: GOP Hostages in Iraq?

Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi:

‘œWe’™re listening to our colleagues about what form they want that supplemental to take,’ Pelosi said. But, sensitive to the GOP attacks, the speaker said: ‘œWe will fund the troops as long as they are in harm’™s way.’

What in the hell do these people not understand? If congress does [...]

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Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi:

‘œWe’™re listening to our colleagues about what form they want that supplemental to take,’ Pelosi said. But, sensitive to the GOP attacks, the speaker said: ‘œWe will fund the troops as long as they are in harm’™s way.’

What in the hell do these people not understand? If congress does not pass the requested $100 billion supplemental appropriation to continue funding the war, it has to stop. The troops have to start coming home. Easy.

It’™s not like anyone would leave the U.S. military stranded in Baghdad without a bus ticket home, for Christ’™s sake. Not a single soldier would go without MRE rations after Sunday – no one is going to have to IM mom and dad to Western Union some dinars to Baghdad so they could buy an order of Hasa Laban Ma’™ Tomata at Omar’™s Haifa St. Cafe and Suicide Bombing Emporium. If funding for the war were to be cut, there would not be one less 7.62mm bullet available for the GI’™s weapons.

But the Pentagon would have to start pulling out troops in an orderly fashion.

I’™m really getting tired of the GOP’™s faux ‘œsupport the troops’ horseshit, and continuously waving the bloody shirt. The best way to support the troops is to start bringing them home – now.

It’™s been said before and it’™ll be said again: cutting the Bush regime’™s Iraq fiasco off at the knees is a totally no-risk situation for the Democratic Party controlled congress. That’™s why the Dems are now in the majority – they took back power in the midterm elections on the basis of Americans being fed up with the lies on top of lies about Iraq that continue to be spun by the Bush regime and its GOP enablers. The American public wants American participation in this mess to end.

A comment on Daily Kos gets it almost exactly right: by continuing the ‘œsupport the troops’ jingoistic rhetoric, the GOP is effectively holding 150,000 troops in Iraq hostage.

The Democratic Party is acting like it’™s suffering from abused spouse syndrome. Instead of figuring out how to de-fund the fiasco, which a plurality of Americans clearly desire, the Dem wafflers in congress are now talking about passing the supplemental request with ‘œconditions’ on the Bush regime. Yeah. Just like the battered wife lets her abuser back into the house when he says, ‘œI won’™t hit you again, honey. Promise. Really.’

The Democrats are in control, but at the end of the day, the GOP keeps snickering, ‘œwho’™s your daddy, bitch?‘ And as long as the GOP is holding American troops hostage in Iraq, it appears as if Democrats are ready to continue to paying the ransom on an installment basis, one supplemental at a time.

This is not what we voted for. If your congressional representative is a member of the Democratic Party majority, may I humbly suggest that you make a call to his/her office today and express your opinion? I have a feeling that the next 24 hours of this debate are going to be critical in either bringing an end to U.S. involvement in Iraq – or staying forever.

Wednesday, February 28th, 2007 by Richard Blair |

Dentist or Death

Today’™s Wapo has a story about a kid dying in Maryland from an abcessed tooth. His mother apparently couldn’™t get a Medicaid dentist to extract the tooth, perhaps wasn’™t aware of any other options, and he ended up with a brain infection.

Gnawing at me as I read this was the reality of [...]

Commentary By: somegirl

Today’™s Wapo has a story about a kid dying in Maryland from an abcessed tooth. His mother apparently couldn’™t get a Medicaid dentist to extract the tooth, perhaps wasn’™t aware of any other options, and he ended up with a brain infection.

Gnawing at me as I read this was the reality of my own need for some medical care that I’™m putting off because of the major expense. I have a little toothache myself, and even if it’™s just a little cavity, which I doubt, it will cost a couple hundred dollars. Yes, I’™ve researched the dental school, but here in Philly, even that is $65 to get an exam and x-rays. A bargain to be sure, if you have the time to sit and wait, which most people with jobs don’™t have. And for those who don’™t have a job, well, I’™d venture to say that 65 bucks is earmarked for other necessities, like food and shelter.

Dental care, like medical care, as we all know, is outrageously expensive. A friend of mine, a medical professional herself with a good income, just got some medical work done that cost her $5000. She told me her dentist told her she really needed $20,000 worth of work, but who can afford that? She opted to have the worst problem fixed, and put off the rest indefinitely. With healthcare expenditures expected to double in the next ten years, how is anyone going to stay above water, insured or not? The is answer is there is no way we can afford it, unless we take the profit out of it to a large degree. And the answer to that is (once again I will reiterate) universal care, not universal coverage.

I also wanted to highlight the real story here though – the comments this article generated. The absolute hatred and contempt for the poor that comes through is devastatingly disproportionate, while the amount of control they are expected to have over their lives is almost hilariously projected onto them by these same haters. Of course there is the usual ‘œthe government is not responsible’ crowd, and no one even mentions the doctors’™ culpability from turning away a severely ill patient. Maybe the mother really had no idea her kid could get a fatal infection from a toothache, and the dentist would have done well to inform her. But hey, why bother if she can’™t afford the bill anyway?

While I am guilty of not understanding the impulse to have children you can’™t afford, and have made my own choice accordingly, I am capable of comprehending a reality that just isn’™t that simple. Many people, men and women alike, can afford children when they first have them, and then find themselves in dire circumstances once they have them – frequently because of medical bills. Are we to tell them their children deserve to die because they are horrible parents? Are we as a society willing to sit back and say that it’™s okay for children to die because their fathers are out of the picture, or their parents are ignorant, or they are criminals, or poor but hard-working, or have no relatives to help out? Where does it end and when will we finally draw a line and say none of it is acceptable?

Wednesday, February 28th, 2007 by Richard Blair |
Category: Healthcare

To Limbaugh and Back – Bob Woodruff’s Journey

On Limbaugh’™s show, Kathy from Levonia, Mi. made an assumption, before Bob Woodruff’™s special even aired on ABC, that the show was only about the blow dried anchorman / ABC ‘œpretty boy’. And because of her call, and subsequent exchanges, I’™ll bet that Kathy (and many Limbaugh listeners) didn’™t watch the show. She and Rush were heartbreakingly wrong. So, what else is new?

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Bob WoodruffAs I was drifting off to sleep last night, I was flipping channels and stopped on a late night repeat of the ABC News piece, From Iraq and Back. I ended up staying awake for more than another hour.

Early press releases billed the show as a documentary about ABC News anchor Bob Woodruff’™s journey back from his near-death experience in Iraq last year, and his (and the Woodruff family’™s) ongoing recovery from his traumatic brain injury.

The first 20 minutes was almost painful to watch. There was a little background, and some footage from just prior to the IED attack that injured both Woodruff and his cameraman. A few minutes were devoted to the acute care that he received immediately after the attack, his evacuation to Germany, and subsequent trip back to the Bethesda Naval Hospital in the U.S. There were no shots of Woodruff prior to the time he woke up in Bethesda, but the home videos of his awakening were almost shocking – here was a guy, missing half of his skull, who was up in bed speaking to his wife and family members. The man in the bed did not look anything like the previously anchor-haired Woodruff. Frankly, he looked rather freakish with half his head missing.

Woodruff’™s continuing journey back from TBI was not unlike that of many, many GI’™s returning from Iraq and Afghanistan. In fact, as it was pointed out several times in the show, TBI is the ‘œsignature’ injury of the ongoing conflicts. And were it not for advances in neurosurgery science, the death toll in the Bush regime’™s misadventures in Iraq would be much, much higher than it actually is.

But before I continue commenting on From Iraq and Back , I want to momentarily divert toward an exchange on Rush Limbaugh’™s daily hatefest yesterday, prior to the airing of the ABC show:

KATHY FROM LEVONIA, MI.: Well, thanks for taking my call. I was calling because I wanted to comment on the Bob Woodruff piece on ABC tonight. I just thought it was a perfect example of the liberal media thinking they’™re the heroes of the war instead of the soldiers who put themselves in harm’™s way every day.

RUSH: You know, there’™s a grain of truth in what you say. You gotta be very careful here because nobody is unhappy that Bob Woodruff is recovering from his injuries. Everybody is happy about that. But we do not get stories of valor in the Drive-By Media about soldiers. We do not get too many profiles of the seriously injured and their recovery and the great strides they make. We get some of that, but normally what we get is how there are rats running around the hospitals, it’™s Bush’™s fault, Bush doesn’™t care. There is some sympathy for these people, but never valor. But there is valor for injured journalists and their quest to return to normal and the hard work they put in during rehabilitation. It is constantly chronicled and we are asked to have all this great respect and so forth, which, nobody is denying the return to good health of Bob Woodruff. But it is interesting that this kind of reporting does not make it and is not common with injured US servicemen.

Kathy from Levonia, Mi. was allowed on Rush’™s daily hatefest for one reason: she was intent on doing one of Limbaugh’™s favorite things – bashing the ‘œliberal media’. She made the assumption, before the show even aired, that the show was only about the blow dried anchorman / ABC ‘œpretty boy’. And because of her call, and subsequent exchanges, I’™ll bet that Kathy (and many Limbaugh listeners) didn’™t watch the show. She and Rush were dead wrong.

The first part of the show was about Woodruff, but it was done in the context of showing what not only he, but many returning vets, are experiencing. The last 40 minutes of the show was completely about vets returning with TBI, and the experiences of they and their families. It was sad in the extreme.

Woodruff was lucky, in some respects. After he left Bethesda Naval Medical Center, there’™s no doubt in my mind that he received the best care that money could buy, including reconstructive and restorative surgery and physical and mental rehabilitation therapy. Whatever needs that Bob Woodruff may have for the rest of his life in dealing with the issues he faces, we can be sure that he’™ll be given the care he needs – the absolutely best care.

As the show progressed, it was clear that Woodruff had significantly progressed, both physically and mentally. While he needed to relearn many, many of life’™s simple tasks (just the exchange with his kids as he tried to relearn speaking the phrase ‘œbelt buckle’ was moving), he has, thankfully, improved significantly. In the early videos, he was literally missing half of his skull. In later footage, and the interviews he was conducting, it’™s apparent that he has undergone reconstructive surgery on his face and head – the anchorman looks are back.

That’™s not the case with the GI’™s. They’™re getting treatment from the Veteran’™s Administration healthcare system – and they’™re being stabilized in one of four centers across the U.S., then entered into local treatment systems that are (to say the least) lacking. Reconstructive surgery seems to consist of merely sewing loose and missing parts back into place. Rehabilitation services outside of the four VA chronic care centers are limited. Patients were shown backsliding after being released to local VA hospitals and outpatient facilities.

If Kathy from Levonia and Rush had bothered to watch the last 40 minutes of the 60 minute show, they would have understood that the show was all about the returning vets – and Woodruff’™s specific empathy with the GI’™s (and their families) who have been devastated by these injuries. I profiled one of these GI’™s in an earlier article on ASZ.

Bob Woodruff enjoys celebrity-level support from his family, his employer, and the private medical establishment. Like I said, the best that money can buy. Even still, it’™s hard to believe that he’™s come so far so quickly, though I’™m certain that he has many miles yet to travel and obstacles to overcome – perhaps for the rest of his life.

The military vets and families that are impacted are not so lucky to have the million dollar support system that is at the disposal of a news network anchorman. These vets and their loved ones are struggling to receive scraps from a medical system that is overloaded and overwhelmed.

As a vet myself, I thank ABC and Bob Woodruff for becoming the face of (and an advocate for) wounded vets returning with TBI. I also thank the Washington Post for revealing the discouraging warehousing of wounded vets at Walter Reed Army Hospital.

As a nation, we simply can’™t allow this to continue. With a short 60 minute return to broadcast television, Bob Woodruff has (or will), become as much of a ‘œface’ for Traumatic Brain Injury as is Michael J. Fox for Parkinson’™s Disease. And that’™s a good thing – because the Bush regime has done their level best to hide the national shame of the tens of thousands of severely wounded men and women returning from Iraq and Afghanistan. To date, they’™ve been pretty successful. We can hope that shows like From Iraq and Back will finally begin to draw back the curtain on these issues.

One last word for Kathy from Levonia, Mi. – don’™t be so quick to jump to conclusions next time. You might be amazed what happens when you open your mind and quit drinking Rush’™s koolaid. You might actually learn something, and become as outraged as the rest of us have been for quite some time.

Update: The GOP-controlled Senate at work in 2006:

Motion to Table Durbin Amdt. No. 4781 As Modified; To appropriate, with an offset, an additional $2,000,000 for Research, Development, Test and Evaluation, Army for the improvement of imaging for traumatic brain injuries

On the Motion to Table

08/02/2006

Senate Roll Call No. 222

109th Congress, 2nd Session

Agreed to: 54-43

If you missed Woodruff’™s documentary, you can view ‘œFrom Iraq and Back’ on ABC’™s website.

Wednesday, February 28th, 2007 by Richard Blair |

Update: National Republican Senatorial Committee Slow to Act

The Republican Senatorial Committee was faced with giving back donations they got from soliciting terrorists, and as of a few days ago they were going to keep the funds. They have finally given away the donations from the suspected terrorist, Abdul Tawala Ibn Ali Alishtari, according to reports.

WASHINGTON (AP) ‘” A Republican Party [...]

Commentary By: Steven Reynolds

The Republican Senatorial Committee was faced with giving back donations they got from soliciting terrorists, and as of a few days ago they were going to keep the funds. They have finally given away the donations from the suspected terrorist, Abdul Tawala Ibn Ali Alishtari, according to reports.

WASHINGTON (AP) ‘” A Republican Party campaign committee that received $20,000 in 2003 from a man now accused of helping terrorists has donated the money to a foundation that comforts families of wounded soldiers.

The National Republican Senatorial Committee, the campaign arm for Republican senators, renounced the contribution after news reports identified Abdul Tawala Ibn Ali Alishtari as an NRSC ‘œInner Circle Member for Life.’

Federal prosecutors charged Alishtari two weeks ago in New York with terrorism financing, material support of terrorism and money laundering. Alishtari pleaded not guilty in U.S. District Court in Manhattan.

‘œIn light of the recent charges filed against a former donor, the National Republican Senatorial Committee will donate the sum total of the former donor’™s contributions to a charitable organization,’ NRSC spokeswoman Rebecca Fisher said.

The committee gave $20,000 last week to the Fisher House Foundation, which provides housing for families on the grounds of military and Veterans’™ Administration hospitals.

No word on whether Alsihtari, who evidently remains an ‘œInner Circle Member for Life’ will have to return his secret decoder ring.

Wednesday, February 28th, 2007 by Richard Blair |

Dick Cheney Didn’t Shoot Anyone in the Face Today

Well, the good news is, Dick Cheney didn’™t shoot anyone in the face today. There is no word on whether or not he was looking for his shotgun when a bomb went off near the camp he was visiting in Afghanistan prior to his meeting with the mayor of Kabul, Hamid Karzai.

The [...]

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Well, the good news is, Dick Cheney didn’™t shoot anyone in the face today. There is no word on whether or not he was looking for his shotgun when a bomb went off near the camp he was visiting in Afghanistan prior to his meeting with the mayor of Kabul, Hamid Karzai.

The military was quick to trot out the PR flacks and say that no, Cheney was not being targeted in the bombing. Of course, the Taliban came right back, issued their own press release and said, ‘œBullshit. We were after the Dickster.’

It’™s hard to believe that the bombing this morning was coincidental to Cheney’™s visit. And while I’™m no fan of the dark lord, it would be pretty damn convenient for the Bush regime if Cheney were to, well, get blown up while on the Afghanistan leg of his world tour. It gets rid of the regime’™s ‘œCheney problem’, and builds 9/11-style sympathy for McFlightsuit and the rest of the 1600 Crew.

So, maybe the Taliban did light off the car bomb in an attempt to get the VP, as they claim. But if so, it begs the question: how did Mullah Omar’™s boys know that the Dickster was going to be visiting, or his location at a specific point in time? Was there some insider information being passed to the rogue elements in Afghanistan?

That’™s the primary reason the military was fast out of the gate stating that Cheney wasn’™t a target. He just happened to be in the area. By the military’™s logic, the bomb would have been blown up outside the military compound even if Cheney was in Jackson Hole, Wyoming. And maybe that’™s in fact true (but color me highly doubtful).

I try to avoid conspiracy theories, yet it all just seems too damn convenient’¦

Tuesday, February 27th, 2007 by Richard Blair |

Perle Interviewed by NewsMax: Bush Great, Underlings Suck or Disloyal

Interesting. Now, this is the guy who many consider the architect of the neocon policy to invade the Middle East in order to spread the virtues of Democracy. Yeah, we’™ve seen where that got us. So Perle is claiming that Bush has done all the right things, and that his Secretaries of [...]

Commentary By: Steven Reynolds

Interesting. Now, this is the guy who many consider the architect of the neocon policy to invade the Middle East in order to spread the virtues of Democracy. Yeah, we’™ve seen where that got us. So Perle is claiming that Bush has done all the right things, and that his Secretaries of State and others are the ones who dropped the ball.

NewsMax: What do you find most frustrating about this slow agony of progress in Iraq?

Perle: I have watched the president from the beginning and my sense is that his instincts have been pretty good and his policy decisions ‘“ the ones that he himself has acted on ‘“ are pretty good. But he has an administration that not only does not implement his policies, they are often hostile to his policies. He has failed to gain control of his own administration.

NewsMax: Rather than a documentary defending the decision to go to war in Iraq, perhaps folks would better appreciate Richard Perle doing something along the lines of David Halberstam’™s Vietnam-era tome ‘œThe Best and The Brightest’ ‘“ similarly discussing how we got where we are in Iraq with the best and brightest leading the way.

Perle: We just don’™t have the best and the brightest. I think Colin Powell was a disaster. He never liked the president’™s policies. He did almost nothing to get them implemented. Condi [former head of the National Security Council and now Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice] was in way over her head from the beginning, and the president gave much too much weight to her views. The administration was full of people even in the White House at the National Security Council who were hostile to the president’™s policies.

So he throws Powell and Rice under the bus. Later Perle attacks John Murtha, Pelosi, etc. They’™re the usual folks one would expect Perle to attack, but it surprises me that he’™d focus on Condi Rice. Of course, these neocons are the best example of people who cannot take responsibility for their actions. Sure, Perle pushed the decision to invade Iraq, and it didn’™t matter that there were no WMD. Most Americans have come to see that decision as a bad one. Still, were Perle to blame Bush for a bad decision, he’™d also be blaming Perle. . . so he throws Powell under the bus instead, even though Powell’™s speech before the UN was an act of loyalty that likely cemented public opinion behind Bush’™s war. Powell sacrificed his credibility for Bush, and in return for that loyalty, which cemented Perle’™s own proposal, the War in Iraq, Perle throws Powell under the bus. What a putz!

There’™s plenty other odd stuff in the interview. Perle seems deranged at times. In some ways, the NewsMax interview seems more like parody than this.

Tuesday, February 27th, 2007 by Richard Blair |

Free the Nurses!

They are trying to do so in Reading, PA!

Dozens of women staged a breast-feeding protest at the Berkshire Mall on Saturday to protest a security guard’™s recent action in telling a nursing mother to use a blanket or stop.

‘œIf adults get hungry at the mall, they eat,’ said 24-year-old Lindsay J. Turner. ‘œMy child needs [...]

Commentary By: Steven Reynolds

They are trying to do so in Reading, PA!

Dozens of women staged a breast-feeding protest at the Berkshire Mall on Saturday to protest a security guard’™s recent action in telling a nursing mother to use a blanket or stop.

‘œIf adults get hungry at the mall, they eat,’ said 24-year-old Lindsay J. Turner. ‘œMy child needs to eat, and he should be allowed to eat at the mall. Mothers should not be forced to breast-feed children in their homes. The babies need to eat when they get hungry.’

The breast-feeding women and other protesters, some carrying signs with slogans such as ‘œI was Breastfed in Public,’ said the ‘œnurse-in’ was a response to a Feb. 17 incident in which guards told Leigh Bellini, 29, of Shillington, to use a blanket or stop nursing her 7-month-old son.

‘œI am holding back tears,’ Bellini said before feeding her son at the protest. ‘œI can’™t believe how much support I have here. I wasn’™t expecting this at all.’

As many here know, I work in a pre-school setting, and we have childcare there for the littlest ones, those who are still nursing. I don’™t know how many times I’™ve walked into the room with a mother nursing. Thankfully they haven’™t flinched at my maleness and we all understood that this is the best thing for the kids. Silly issue, to my view. Women should be able to nurse whenever the kids need to and wherever they need to. Heck, even in church, but especially in a mall.

Monday, February 26th, 2007 by Richard Blair |
Category: Stupid

More Chainsaw Juggling

For almost as long as I’™ve been blogging, I’™ve opined that the Bush regime is simply juggling too many running chainsaws, and at some point, one chainsaw too many would be thrown into the mix, and the whole act would come to a crashing halt. When that happens, someone is bound to get hurt. [...]

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For almost as long as I’™ve been blogging, I’™ve opined that the Bush regime is simply juggling too many running chainsaws, and at some point, one chainsaw too many would be thrown into the mix, and the whole act would come to a crashing halt. When that happens, someone is bound to get hurt. Based on the fact that Dick Cheney made a surprise trip to Pakistan today to browbeat Perez Musharef into cooperation on Taliban, al-Qaida, and border control issues, it looks like more chainsaws are dropping:

Vice President

Dick Cheney made a surprise visit to Pakistan on Monday for talks with President Gen. Pervez Musharraf on efforts to stabilize Afghanistan. The Bush administration wants Musharraf to be more aggressive in hunting down al-Qaida operatives, and has raised the possibility that Congress could cut aid to Pakistan unless it takes tougher steps’¦

First off, I want to know how this happens: one world leader just drops in on another without a summit being scheduled weeks or months in advance. You know for a fact that Musharef couldn’™t just fly into Washington on a moment’™s notice and get an appointment with Dick or George. So, how does Dick get an immediate audience?

Secondly, doesn’™t Dick read the newspapers? Isn’™t he aware that Pakistan is a hotbed of al-Qaida training camps (and has been for years), and that the Paks hung out the Century 21 ‘œwelcome’ sign for Osama & Co. several months back? Isn’™t he aware that the reason Iran is rattling the nuclear saber is because Pakistani scientist A.Q. Kahn’™s nuclear black market essentially gave the Iranians the blue prints? And Kahn is wandering Pakistan as freely as Osama right now.

Of course, the sycophantic media also seems to forget these inconvenient facts from the very recent past. Wow. This is all news to the newshounds. Maximum leader orders another 3000+ troops to Afghanistan. They’™re anticipating bad things this spring. The Taliban is back with a vengence. Pakistan continues to be an ‘œimportant partner in the GWOT’ even though the Musharef regime has never fully cooperated on GWOT issues.

Ahem.

And all of a sudden, Cheney is trying to twist arms again in Pakistan??

What is wrong with this picture?

Monday, February 26th, 2007 by Richard Blair |