Monday, June 28, 2004

I'm Still on the Road for 10 More Days, but Thought You Should Know That:

Sean Hannity: says that God is "no Democrat"; Dennis Miller: Jesus "prefers Bush to Kerry".

Aren't you glad that these important issues have been settled?

BTW: please see Fahrenheit 9/11. And, have your undecided veteran friends go with you!

Posted by a Vet -- -- permanent link

Thursday, June 24, 2004

Playing Politics with Veterans' Lives

(Note: Guest post from the Vet's daughter - originally written on Wednesday):

Dad is out of town on a well-deserved holiday with his beloved wife (mom) of 37 years, so I am taking up the slack
for his blog by pointing out that the Republicans in the Senate have now taken it upon themselves to outrightly and publicly screw veterans. It's not even subtle anymore. There was a very important vote yesterday on the Daschle Amendment to the Veterans Benefit Bill - this amendment was to extend guaranteed permanent benefits to ALL reservist veterans (the Bush administration wants, among other things, cut off VA benefits for anyone who earns over $24,000).

As most people know, John Kerry is a very strong supporter of veterans (being one himself) and has made it one of the cornerstones of his campaign that he will take care of the veterans of this country. Because of this committment, when the Senate decided to call a vote on the Daschle Amendment yesterday, John Kerry cut short a campaign trip in New Mexico to fly back to Washington and vote. But the Republicans wouldn't have it. It was their perfect excuse for avoiding having to vote on the amendment and show how much they don't care about veterans. Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist called off the vote because of John Kerry's decision to come back for it.

Republicans denied any conspiracy to stymie Kerry; instead, they said that Kerry's detour to the Capitol gave them leverage to seek concessions from Democrats on other aspects of the defense bill. Frist made it clear that while Kerry may be the de facto Democratic presidential nominee, in the Senate he wields no more clout than any other of the 100 senators.

"Senator Kerry, who hadn't been here all year, who's missed 80 percent of all votes this year, parachutes in for a day, and then he'll be taking off once again," Frist said. "That amendment will be considered in due course."

Petty? Small-minded? Or just completely evil and conniving. You decide. Not only was this a complete denial of the needs of veterans, especially reservists, but this was using the fate of veterans to try and make a political slash against Kerry.

Of course this unconscionable action reflects the absolute hypocrisy of the Republicans in Congress. If they feel that John Kerry should give up his senate seat because he is running for the presidency, then what about George Bush? If Kerry has no right to vote on the issues that are important to him, then how does Bush have the right to keep pushing his policies? How many times has Bush been on a campaign trip or at a fundraiser (or on vacation) in the last year when he should have been attending to crucial issues at the White House - international issues and domestic matters alike?

While soldiers are dying every day in Iraq, Bush visited Ft. Lewis out here in the Pacific Northwest last week (after campaigning for Rep. George Nethercutt- remember him? He's the guy who said last October that the story of Iraq's reconstruction "is a better and more important story than losing a couple of soldiers every day."), and tells members of the military, their families and families of slain soldiers that the deaths over there are "worth it."

This was a heartless use of politics to deny veterans their due benefits. The Republicans don't want veterans to have those benefits because their "support for the troops" only goes as far as the shiny little American flag pins on their lapels. True, substantive support means money, benefits, and honor. It means respecting the dead, allowing the flag-draped coffins to be shown to a country that has become numb to the cost of this war. It means doing what it takes to make sure vets, their families, active duty and their families, and every reservist and guard member are taken care of. The Republicans will never have the moral integrity or the political will to make this happen. So they conveniently play petty games with the presidential candidate they fear most.

This coming November, it's not only time to change presidents, we need to change Congress too. We can do it - it's very possible. People like Frist and his kind don't deserve a place of prominence in American politics or governing. Veterans already know it. It's time the rest of the country does.

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Monday, June 21, 2004

Well, We Were Generally in the Right Part of the World, Weren't We?

As those of you who remember comedian Pat Paulsen, whose famous line was, "Picky, Picky, Picky..."

Posted by a Vet -- -- permanent link

Friday, June 18, 2004

Please, Please...

B: Rudy, you know why I'm calling?
G: Yes. I think so.
B: And your answer is?
G: But what about Dick?
B: Dick's been dead for two years - we just keep playing his same press statements.
G: He's dead?
B: Right, it's been Karl's most amazing achievement...
G: Omigosh, that supermarket tabloid was right, he is a real robot!!
B: Look Rudy, you've got to hear the call of your country -namely me. So what will it be?
G: Well maybe, but just keep Karl away from me, OK?

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Thursday, June 17, 2004

Monkey See, Monkey Do...

B: Ok, let’s get this cabinet meeting going – it looks like a good golf day. What’s up?
R: Umm, lets see, 40+ Iraqis killed this morning.
P: But transition is still on track.
B: Well we’re still safer than we were three years ago, and that’s what matters…

P: Umm, that may not be the case in terms of pure stats, Mr. President…
B: What are you talking about, I’ve used every opportunity for the last year to drum into my followers that we are safer – how come I didn’t hear about this? This is going to be somebody’s a--...
P: Mr. President, this has been all over the news the last week, you couldn’t have missed...

B: How many times do I have to tell you people that I don’t have time for what people write or say? Just follow my lead and…
P: But we were way off in our statistics at State...
B: How far off???
P: There has been about a 40% rise in terrorism over the last year, not a decline, and...
B: Bury it!
P: We can’t, it’s out.

B: OK, Karl, this is a job for you. Just make sure we get something out in a hurry, for a diversion, got it?
KR: Got it...I have just the quote I need from Bill O’Reilly.
B: Good buddy, Bill! What did he say?
KR: Something like, "Just lie and keep repeating the lie, and pretty soon it becomes the truth." It’s from Joseph Goebbels, Hitler’s Minister of Propaganda. O'Reilly basically used the quote to call everybody on liberal talk radio, like Al Franken, and everyone in show business a Nazi...
B: Perfect, I like it.

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Wednesday, June 16, 2004

Deja-vu, All Over Again

Thousands of eligible Florida voters may be removed from the rolls in this year's election because of a faulty database aimed at convicted felons.

Ok, so you are tired of hearing the story of 2000 again - only it's not 2000, it's now...

Despite protests from critics and nervous election supervisors, the state will continue with plans to implement the system.

Convicted felons are not allowed to vote in Florida unless granted clemency, but before 2000 there was little enforcement of the law. That year, then-Secretary of State Katherine Harris hired DBT Online to provide a database of felons to be purged from the rolls. But the list contained the names of many people who should not have lost their voting rights. Many supervisors refused to use the list, but others did.

After George Bush won the state by a mere 537 votes, and with it the presidency, the felon list became a subject of national controversy and numerous lawsuits. A study by the Palm Beach Post showed more than 1,100 voters had been wrongfully turned away from the polls.

"We have developed much more stringent matching material on the list," said Jenny Nash, a spokeswoman for the Division of Elections. "We run each name through a whole series of algorithms now. If a name doesn't meet a certain threshold it is not purged."

But voter advocacy groups remain concerned about the list being unrolled so close to this year's elections. "Here we go again," said Ralph Neas, president of People for the American Way. "Why the rush to take more people off of the voting rolls when people who should not have been removed in 1999 and 2000 haven't yet been reinstated?"

Leon County election supervisor Ion Sancho said more than 10 percent of the names of voters in his county may be incorrect, but it will take a lengthy procedure to resolve issues.

Why do I get the feeling that 25 electoral votes are already in the Red column?

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Monday, June 14, 2004

The 1,000 Days...

An anniversary passed by almost unnoticed yesterday.

Awaiting the October Surprise...

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The Tide is Turning...

George Bush is definitely in trouble for November when this kind of coordinated action is being taken by prominent people.

This president is decimating our standing in the world, our safety against terrorists, and has compromised our military structure for the future.

Not even during Vietnam was there this kind of concern and outrage expressed, in the open, by so many former military leaders. As more and more Americans, who have trusted Mr. Bush no matter what he has done, really begin to understand the true damage to our country over the last three years, they are reluctantly - but correctly - turning from Mr. Bush.

Posted by a Vet -- -- permanent link

A Note to Blogging Friends

As I will be traveling for the next three weeks, blogging will be very sparse, but I'll be on line a couple of times a week (I hope) - and I'll be looking for you on your blogs as well.... A Vet

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Friday, June 11, 2004

Up Front

Too quickly, the events of D-Day were overshadowed last Sunday. So here is another vignette. Those of you old enough to remember, have heard the name Bill Mauldin - generally agreed upon to be the greatest cartoonist of WWII. Mauldin, an enlisted troop himself, was under fire constantly, lived in trenches, and stormed ashore along with thousands of others during some key battles that now live in history.

Few know that he was just 23 years old when, as a fighting man, and part time cartoonist - and now syndicated throughout the free world through the Stars and Stripes - he stormed ashore at Anzio, Italy in early 1944.

Anzio took a large toll and lasted nearly three months with the Allies prevailing finally, just 10 days before the D-Day landings would take place over in Normandy, France. Mauldin's unit swept into France some weeks after D-Day from the other direction. Mauldin wrote from the enlisted man's perspective of the misery, the danger, and the hell that is war. But his humor showed through all and endeared him to his readers - not just his cartoons, but what he wrote as well.

An example from Mauldin's book Up Front, that he documented from Anzio: "The soldiers killed a lot of cows (for food). One rifleman insisted that a cow had attacked him and that he had fired in self-defense."

A few months ago I went on line looking for a copy of Up Front and felt lucky to find a used one for less than $10, amazingly from Amazon. Not only that, but imagine my surprise and joy when it arrived - it was a copy from the first printing of the book in 1945, with just a slightly worn dust cover. Inside, the original price was printed - $3.00. The price didn't matter. I just started reading...

Posted by a Vet -- -- permanent link

Thursday, June 10, 2004

Everything's Changed...

I’ve been in a coma for 10 years, and I’ve just come out. I’ve been told the year is 2006. But something doesn’t seem right. The $10 bill has Ronald Reagan’s picture on it. I appreciated President Reagan in a lot of ways – after all he got rid of the Berlin Wall - but like every presidency, he had more than a few things go very wrong.

Now I see that the Pentagon has been renamed the Reagan War Center. Wal-Marts are now called Reagan-Marts. The Big-Mac is now the Reagan-Mac with Reagan Fries. Weird, I must still be dreaming, but there’s more. The Supreme Court is now called the Reagan Court of Justice. And, didn’t FDR used to be on the dime? Not anymore. And SUVs are now RUVs – you can guess what the acronym stands for. And what happened to the Statue of Liberty? It’s been replaced by a 150-foot tall Reagan in cast bronze with a cowboy hat on. Oh, and you are not going to believe this, but I just saw what must be the new American flag and...

Posted by a Vet -- -- permanent link

Wednesday, June 09, 2004

John Ashcroft Needs to be the Next to Go...

I hope you caught the news coverage of the Senate hearings yesterday. The man on the stand: John Ashcroft. The subject: a White House lawyers' report saying that the Bush administration was not bound by international law against torture in certain cases. The interrogator: Sen. Joseph Biden.

Through clenched teeth, Sen Biden chewed up and spit out Ashcroft. Paraphrasing Biden's comments: "Here's why we can't do what this report says we can do Mr. Ashcroft - because of my son who is stationed in the Middle East. We can't be doing this to our prisoners, because they'll do the same thing to my son - do you understand that?"

And then in a response that perfectly characterizes why Ashcroft lost his Senate seat to a dead man: "I have a son too who has been there twice in the last year."

This "compassionate conservative" could care less about his own son apparently, much less our military and private citizens who are in foreign countries. He couldn't connect the dots, even with his own flesh and blood at risk. The United States, previously in the vanguard of the treatment of war prisoners after the experiences of WWII, has in three short years now come to the point of justifying torture.

Ashcroft didn't catch one other irony of his testimony - it's the same sort of thinking Saddam Hussein would have used 15 years ago when using chemical weapons on the Kurds: international law be damned. The rights of foreigners be damned. And with the Patriot Acts: The rights of U.S. citizens be damned.

That's why John Ashcroft needs to resign - now.

Posted by a Vet -- -- permanent link

Tuesday, June 08, 2004

'Reagan, Terror & Bush.'

The death of President Reagan did several favors for the Bush administration, but once again, they seemed too inept to understand. First, for one of the few times in the last year, the well-deserved microscope of criticism was off of Mr. Bush. Second, the Bush team had a built-in opportunity to recognize the Reagan presidency (of whom Mr. Bush is a non-deserving heir). But inexplicably the Bush team at first said that Mr. Bush, who was in Europe trying to make up with foreign leaders, would not be making a public statement about President Reagan. This is typical of the lack of social, ethical, and leadership skills demonstrated all too frequently for the last three years by the White House. Only after fumbling around and seeing the dismay of many, including his own party supporters, did Mr. Bush change his mind about saying something in public praising the former president.

Iddybud says it very well:

I think Bush is a super-dumbed-down version of a Reagan-wannabe (without Reagan's natural gift of humor). Bush tries to imitate and emulate Reagan's historical successes. We need a clear-eyed realist who is his own man. (A man---or woman---who doesn't have to read from cue-cards and sound like a second-grader when he does). I'm sick of being faked out by cheap (and often seemingly-learning-disabled) imitations.

I believe that a good portion of the reason so many Americans have a visceral dislike for Bush is primarily due to the fact that they suspect they are far more intelligent than he is. It's frustrating when you don't share a man's ideology and you observe that he can barely squeeze three or four properly-pronounced words into one flowing sentence. Another reason for the Bush-disconnect is that so many Americans do not trust that Bush's motives are genuine. He's been caught lying to Americans too many times.

You didn't see the same distaste for Reagan, even though his ideology was oppositional to many.

Posted by a Vet -- -- permanent link

Monday, June 07, 2004

A 60th Anniversary

Uncle Tommy landed at Normandy the morning of June 6th, 1944. More than 2,000 GIs died on the beaches that morning - more than 10,000 on D-Day. For the next 50+ years, Uncle Tommy would go to his unit’s reunions, driving all over the U.S. to do so. He once admitted that basically everyone told the same stories every year - which seemed to get more and more embellished – yet, there was something special about just getting together. In a few weeks I’m going to see Uncle Tommy once more. Like many WWII vets, it is comfortable for him to talk to old war buddies about their shared experiences, but next to impossible to talk to family about them.

And, so that you can settle all those arguments you had over the weekend about the definition of D-Day, it’s actually pretty simple:

The term D-Day is used generically by the military to simply mean the day on which a combat attack or operation is to be initiated, but it is often used to refer to the Battle of Normandy of June 6, 1944, which marked the commencement of the liberation of mainland Europe from German occupation during World War II.

The terms D-day and H-hour are used for the day and hour on which a combat attack or operation is to be initiated. They designate the day and hour of the operation when the day and hour have not yet been determined, or where secrecy is essential. The letters are derived from the words for which they stand, "D" for the day of the invasion and "H" for the hour operations actually begin. There is but one D-day and one H-hour for all units participating in a given operation. It is unnecessary to state that H-hour is on D-day.

When used in combination with figures and plus or minus signs, these terms indicate the length of time preceding or following a specific action. Thus, H-3 means 3 hours before H-hour, and D+3 means 3 days after D-day. H+75 minutes means H-hour plus 1 hour and 15 minutes.

Planning papers for large-scale operations are made up in detail long before specific dates are set. Thus, orders are issued for the various steps to be carried out on the D-day or H-hour minus or plus a certain number or days, hours, or minutes. At the appropriate time, a subsequent order is issued that states the actual day and times.

The earliest use of these terms by the U.S. Army that the Center of Military History has been able to find was during World War I. In Field Order Number 9, First Army, American Expeditionary Forces, dated September 7, 1918: "The First Army will attack at H hour on D day with the object of forcing the evacuation of the St. Mihiel Salient."

(In French, it is called jour-J.)

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Thursday, June 03, 2004

One Less George to Push Around...

Overheard outside the West Wing, last night, by our trusty reporter:

George B: Hey George, I don't have time to read your latest intelligence brief. Just give it to Dick.
George T: Well that's not exactly why I came over tonight...

B: Oh no, don't tell me there are some more pictures from Abba Grabby...
T: It's Abu Ghraib, and no, that's not why I'm here.

B: Oh, you probably heard I'm getting a lawyer in case that outted agent of yours, Valetta Flame tries to get me in court.
T: It's Valerie Plame, and no, that's not the reason either...

B: Well you look kind of grim. So, I don't suppose you found UBL or some WMDs by any chance, did you?
T: No. I... I'm leaving Mr. President.

B: Leaving for Iraq? Afghanistan? Israel? England?
T: No, I'm quitting my job. It's time for me to go.

B: Nobody quits George Bush. You're fired!
T: Whatever you say.

B: Wait a minute...what aren't you telling me? Is Al Qaeda up to something big? That's it, you are trying to leave me holding the bag again, aren't you?
T: No, Mr. President, all my intelligence sources are quiet. We don't see a thing going on...Good bye, Mr. President, I've called a news conference and that's where I'm headed now.

B: Well OK George, you were going to have to take the heat for me anyway when all the 9/11 commission reports come out long as your sources say all is good right now........ wait a minute, that's what you said before 9/11!! ...George? George? Dick? Dick?

(George T. exits the Oval Office with a slight smile on his face...)

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Tenet's Resignation (cont.)

Last year on Sept 11th, during the first week of this blog, I talked about Mr. Tenet. Here's a reprise of part of that post:

"When weapons of mass destruction were initially a primary basis for our going to war, when those weapons did not materialize, when bad intelligence then became blamed for possible bad information regarding WMD, and when Mr. George Tenet, head of our intelligence apparatus and the CIA took the blame for possibly misleading the President on WMD, and when our military began to lose their lives over this house of cards, no one was held accountable.

Mr. President, Mr. Tenet essentially became the fall guy for a massive failure of leadership. Why was Mr. Tenet not replaced after taking the blame for what perhaps will be the key turning point in your administration for 2004. If Mr. Tenet had been replaced, you had a perfect opportunity to stop the slide of confidence placed in you by the people of this country - a built-in way to buy some support for something "you couldn't have helped." And by the way Mr. Tenet, when the President didn't fire you, why didn't you resign? But something else is missing here. Intelligence is a combination of raw data, making connections between that data, and making recommendations to leadership. Rarely therefore can failures really be blamed on "bad intelligence", but more logically on which recommendations were chosen by leadership, and why."

Posted by a Vet -- -- permanent link

He's been uh....He's been uh... He's been uh...

....Less than overwhelming praise for George Tenet who just resigned, out of the mouth of his boss.

Let me finish the sentence for you Mr. Bush:

"He's been uh... an albatross around my neck. He's been uh... a royal pain in the ass, going off to speak to the press on his own, and contradicting me in public. He's been uh...and I'm going to miss him! (and under his breath: 'but he'll make an excellent scapegoat!')"

Seems like Mr. Gore's call for his close friend's resignation finally got the deed done. Guess Al's speech wasn't so "crazy" (Limbaugh) after all.

Posted by a Vet -- -- permanent link

Wednesday, June 02, 2004

A Comparison of Presidential Candidates Veterans' Websites

As I watched the World War II Memorial dedication on Saturday, I remembered some of the many WWII vets stories I've read recently, and some emails received. Four million of these folks (out of 16 million) are still alive, many wondering if anyone cares about them anymore, and the sacrifices they made for this country. It is only in the last several years that we have started to see some personal memoirs come out. Virtually all of these vets experienced stuff they never wanted to talk about again. Now we are starting to see more of their stories through their books and articles.

I wondered how each of the candidates was communicating with these and other veterans apart from the rhetoric and the ads. Both George Bush and Jon Kerry have veterans' links on their websites.

John Kerry's veterans' website talks about veterans and their needs, and includes his Compact With Veterans:

· Providing Mandatory funding of Veterans' Healthcare
· Grant Full Concurrent Receipt to Disabled Military Retirees
· Make the Veterans Administration Responsive
· Properly Compensate Soldiers and their Families for their Service
· Full Accounting for Missing POW/MIAs
· Combating Homelessness
· Supporting Members of the National Guard and Reservists
· Protecting Family members who lose a loved-one
· Don't Overstretch the Military

George Bush's veterans' website talks about himself and what he says he has done for veterans - almost nothing about what he will do for them in the future.

There's a clear difference. John Kerry talks about veterans. George Bush talks mostly about himself. Check it out for yourself. And then make the choice vets - who do really believe is thinking about you?

Posted by a Vet -- -- permanent link

Tuesday, June 01, 2004

Fighting for Veterans

Normally Parade magazine (from your Sunday paper) isn’t a source most of us would go to, but this last Sunday’s lead story, “What Do We Owe Our Veterans?” is worth reading. It lays out veterans’ health care problems, as they are, and clearly sets forth the huge funding shortfalls in VA health care. The Bush Administration keeps on crowing about how much more funding there is now for veterans – but as Parade rightly points out, it’s still woefully short of the needs. Parade concludes that the VA can’t meet its goals in veterans’ health care.

Many vets still refuse to believe the Bush administration would fail them in such a crucial area as health care. However, I and many others have been reporting on this failure for almost a year. Now it’s being reported matter-of-factly in mainstream innocuous sources like Parade. Veterans – let me put it bluntly – it’s time to wake up. This is YOUR health care we are talking about. You may not need it now, but it may be all you have some day.

Last week I promised to start building a Veterans’ Strategic Plan.

Point #1 of the plan: Health care for veterans must be right at the top with our other most important national health care priorities. To paraphrase my son-in-law who says it best, “A veteran, especially one who has been wounded, disabled, or who has contracted any ailment while on active duty, ought to be able to go into any health care facility, at any time, for any reason, with no questions asked and no bill for services.” Using a little creativity in thinking, you would not need a separate costly VA health system, and with less money be able to treat any veteran.

Many of you will come up with a lot of objections or say I’m asking way too much.

But Parade rightly concludes by quoting David Gorman of the Disabled American Veterans this way, “Our leaders put them (veterans) in harm’s way. Their fellow countrymen owe them some future security.” It’s that simple, and that important.

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