Monday, January 31, 2005

More and More Iraqi War Veterans Are Saying No

...and yes, they support the troops strongly, but not the pre-emptive war policy of the Bush Administration.

A quote from the wife of an Iraqi war veteran:

"It is a sad day when a country decides there is greater honor in a soldier knowing 'how to die by the rules' when the only important thing should be learning how to live like a human being." So goes a quote from The Bridge on the River Kwai. Amazing how something from an old movie about war remains applicable when a country is at war...America, what is it we are dying for?"

And so we have the updated version of W on the warship declaring hostilities are over. This version is now stated as the Iraqi people have voted, and we have once more won the victory.

The Iraqi people have indeed voted, at least the Shiites have. But as W's mouthpiece Condi somehow can't believe her good luck, this administration will never answer the question:

Do the ends justify the means, no matter what the means are? The answer to this question lays at the soul of our nation...and on the lives of our kids.

Posted by a Vet -- -- permanent link

Saturday, January 29, 2005

Where's Waldo II ???

Don't miss this article and be sure to enlarge the photo.

Courtesy of Buzzflash

Posted by a Vet -- -- permanent link

Friday, January 28, 2005

We Should Be Asking Every Day:
Why Do We Continue to Sacrifice Our Sons and Daughters???

CANYON LAKE - A 22-year-old Marine from this Hill Country town was among the 31 service members killed in Wednesday's helicopter crash in western Iraq, his family said.

Lance Cpl. Tony Hernandez was the crew chief on the aircraft, which went down during a desert sandstorm while transporting troops as part of security operations.

Leroy Hernandez, the Marine's father, said he was working the overnight shift at the Comal County Jail early Wednesday when his daughter called to say two Marines were at their house.

"Of course, when she said that, I just knew," said Hernandez, who spent the afternoon sitting outside his home in a small grove of trees. His wife, Evelyn, and other family members took turns holding a framed photo of his son in his formal Marine uniform.

"I just look at the picture and I can't believe it happened," he said. "I just wish we could get those kids out of there."

Ben Hernandez, the Marine's uncle, sat quietly nearby to support his brother's family. "It's tragic for everyone."

Leroy Hernandez, who served in the Navy in Vietnam in the late 1960s, said he spoke to his son by phone Sunday.

"He said it was cold, that he didn't like the weather, that he was working his butt off — the usual gripes," he said. "He didn't say a lot because he didn't want anyone to worry."

Tony Hernandez tried to join the Marine Corps just after he graduated from Smithson Valley High School, his father said, but he was rejected because he was too heavy.

The teenager instead went to a community college in San Antonio, but his attraction to the Marines remained strong. One day he visited a recruiter, and soon he was running hard and dieting to trim nearly 25 pounds off his frame.

By the time he finished Marine boot camp in California, he had lost another 20 pounds.

"We went to his graduation and we almost didn't recognize him," Leroy Hernandez said.

A year ago the Marine surprised his family when he married his longtime girlfriend, who is also from the Canyon Lake area. He deployed to Iraq last summer and was scheduled to return to Camp Pendleton, Calif., in March, his father said.

Leroy Hernandez said that he didn't tell his son much about his combat experience as a helicopter door gunner. But his memories about that earlier war had weighed heavily on him since his son shipped out.

"I knew (the war) was going to escalate — it was pretty much guaranteed," he said. "Unfortunately it's the young kids who end up paying the price."

Posted by a Vet -- -- permanent link

Wednesday, January 26, 2005

Apparently the President Doesn't Have a Yellow Magnetic Ribbon on His Limo fact, supporting the troops doesn't really come to his mind until he is asked about it.

At least an hour before this morning's press conference, radio and TV media were reporting that at least 17 GIs (turned out to be 31) had been killed in a copter crash in Iraq. As I tried to find out more, each and every source then said that W was calling a news conference and that he'd be addressing the issue.

Then the press conference: In the coverage I heard, unless he said something before the microphones were engaged, there was not a word from him about the heavy loss of life - nada - during his 10 minute statement. Nothing. Mostly just his high praise for Incompetent Condi.

The press got sucked in also. It took about a dozen questions before a reporter finally asked about the loss of life and asked about the cause.

And W showed that he knew about the heaviest single loss of life in the war by saying he didn't yet know the cause.

He knew about the crash alright, and the heavy casualties - AND HE SAID NOTHING MORE AND WOULD HAVE SAID NOTHING AT ALL IF HE HAD NOT BEEN ASKED.

Oh yeah. Support the Troops. In my opinion, if you are a veteran, and are not incensed, something is wrong with you.

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Tuesday, January 25, 2005

'Ten Questions for Alberto Gonzales'

1. Are there any circumstances under which you believe the President of the United States could legally authorize torture?

2. Has your position on the Geneva Conventions changed since evidence of widespread detainee abuse at U.S. prisons was uncovered? If not, which provisions of the Geneva Conventions do you still consider "quaint" or "obsolete"?

3. In your view, what limits did the September 14 joint resolution passed by Congress place on which countries the president could invade?

4. Do you still believe that the state of Texas does not have to abide by the Vienna Convention?

5. Do you still believe that the president can order the indefinite detention of U.S. citizens, without judicial scrutiny, now that the Supreme Court has rejected that position?

6. The Department of Justice has issued a revised, more expansive definition of torture. But John Yoo, who helped write the repudiated memo, still defends the old definition. If you are confirmed as Attorney General, would you consider Mr. Yoo for a position in your department?

7. Do you believe the March 2004 draft memo you requested – authorizing the CIA to transfer detainees to countries that may torture them – was in violation of international law?

8. Would you recuse yourself from all Enron-related matters?

9. Would you recuse yourself from all Halliburton-related matters?

10. Were you aware of Bernard Kerik's long-standing ties to Interstate Industrial, a New Jersey-based firm allegedly run by organized crime? If so, did you inform President Bush before Mr. Kerik was nominated? If not, how was the media able to uncover the connection hours after the nomination was announced?

No, make that 11 questions:

11. Did you help keep George W. Bush's DUI Quiet?

Posted by a Vet -- -- permanent link

Monday, January 24, 2005

The Albany New York Board of Education Has Had Enough

Veterans, What About Your Schools?

In Fahrenheit 9/11 there is a sequence showing highly aggressive recruiting tactics being used by the military in high schools. Poor school districts with a high proportion of minorities are especially targeted. No-Child-Left-Behind ties funding to a school's willingness to provide the names of students along with a free reign to recruit on campus.

Now, in the past, having spent nearly four decades in the military or providing consulting services to the military, I often would recommend to parents that they consider the military for their kids if they needed direction or to learn skills that would help them get jobs in the civilian life after their time in uniform. Now, I would be sure to also mention that there are many downsides to what high school recruiters are telling their kids.

The bottom line: This administration, and especially the DoD, is using blackmail and discrimination to get kids to sign up.

The pressure is phenomenal on a graduating senior with no money and no job prospects. The money for enlisting is at least twice as good as minimum wage. Gone are the days when recruiters were trying to make a good impression by wearing their 'Class-A' dress uniform - they now wear their battle fatigues and high tech accessories. They look cool to the kids. Albany New York, has had enough of these tactics, even though it could cost them dearly in federal funds. Ironically, it's a matter of values:


WHEREAS as members of the elected Board of Education of the City School District of Albany, New York, it is our responsibility to provide quality public education for the children of our district. On occasions when the conduct of other government entities significantly hinders our ability to effectively and conscientiously carry out our responsibility, and when such conduct negatively impacts the prospects for our children's future, we believe it is our responsibility, in fact, our moral imperative to raise awareness and issue dutiful notice enabling a timely and sensible course of corrective action to be taken, and,

WHEREAS as individuals, we hold a wide range of opinions about the policies of our federal government, but, as members of the Board of Education, responsible for both the present education and future of our districts children, however, we are of one mind in our concern and distress about the unprecedented national deficit and the extent to which available resources are being diverted to military purposes. Specifically, we are concerned about the degree to which this has negatively impacted the availability of resources to provide for the quality education and well-being of our nations children, and,

WHEREAS while we recognize that resources must be made available to support appropriate national interests, including the safety of our troops, we are resolved in our concern when resources are diverted from insuring an educational future for our children, and,

WHEREAS we believe that government officials at all levels should be mindful of this concern, must particularly, the President of the United States and our elected members in the United States Senate and the House of Representatives, and,

WHEREAS while Congress has requested unprecedented levels of accountability from local school districts, and imposed additional bureaucratic burdens upon them pursuant to the No Child Left Behind Legislation and the Individuals with Disabilities in Education Act, it has nevertheless failed to provide the resources necessary to fund its ambitious goals, and,

WHEREAS the federal government has failed to live up to its commitment to fully fund these programs, and as a result, schools across New York State receive $1 billion less than was originally committed to them by the federal government.

NOW, THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED that the Board of Education of the City of Albany, New York requests that the federal government honor its commitment to fully fund all legislation imposed on local school districts, including NCLB and IDEA and the President and Congress be mindful of this commitment and obligation as they continue to allocate resources for military expansion and otherwise.


Veterans, in growing numbers, are going into school districts where recruiters are plying their trade, and they are balancing that with the reality of what it means to put on the uniform and how the government is not telling them the whole story. See Veterans for Peace for more information.

Posted by a Vet -- -- permanent link

Friday, January 21, 2005

The New Commandments....

1. Thou shalt not look on the Sun God directly, on pain of death (depending on the sniper's aim)
2. Thou shalt only take a picture of the Son God while he peers regally to his right at a 90 degree angle to his viewers, with his head tilted upward at a 10 degree angle.
3. Thou shalt not speak the word "Iraq" in the Sun God's presence.
4. Thou shalt put your social security money in the stock market to appease the Sun God's quarter-million-dollar supporters.
5. Thou shalt utter the word "freedom" at least twice in each sentence so that the Sun God can know you are a believer.

Commandments 5 thru 10 are open for readers to suggest...

Posted by a Vet -- -- permanent link

Wednesday, January 19, 2005

Thank You Barbara Boxer

....and if I had one more question to ask Condi, it would have been this:

"Ms. Rice, in your tenure as coordinator of all US activities and oversight in Iraq, please provide the details of your accomplishments."

Posted by a Vet -- -- permanent link

The Best Democracy Money Can Buy

(Note: scroll down if needed, to see image on your screen)

Posted by a Vet -- -- permanent link

Monday, January 17, 2005

Another Admission by the White House…

…No, not WMDs – we already know about that one. Our reporter (OR) was on the scene once more to catch this exclusive from a hastily called news conference this morning by the press secretary (SM):

SM: This will be a short news conference to make another important announcement. The president has concluded, after considering all the evidence, that the earth is probably not flat.

OR: …but, but we’ve all known that for at least 500 years...
SM:…and I should point out that we still might find such evidence. It’s just that it has been well hidden, or moved, or it may be that we don’t have the technology to find it yet.

OR: Do you mean to say that you are confident you may still find this evidence – that the earth is flat?
SM: Of course, just look at the crop circles.
OR: Crop circles???
SM: Yes. It’s like hieroglyphics. Someday we’ll figure out why aliens moved or hid this information.

OR: But this is ridiculous. The rest of the world knows that the earth is round. How do you expect us to think the president has any credibility on this issue?
SM: We’ve sent Admiral Columbus and his fleet to confirm our convictions.
OR: This sounds very expensive and dangerous. What about the mission to Mars?
SM: We are scrapping that in favor of a mission to land on the sun.

OR: The sun? Doesn’t the administration know anything about physics? No one could survive the heat, and...
SM: We know about that, and the president has read his one-page executive overview. We’ll land at night.
OR: ...but that’s just an old joke and…

SM: That concludes this conference. I will have more important
announcements tomorrow.

Posted by a Vet -- -- permanent link

Thursday, January 13, 2005

Before and After...

For those of you who have played "Where's Waldo", can you find the Waldo disconnect in the following statements? The answer is at the end.

Bush administration comments on WMDs

Statements by the Bush administration before and after the invasion of Iraq in March 2003 on Saddam Hussein's weapons programs:


"Simply stated, there is no doubt that Saddam Hussein now has
weapons of mass destruction. There is no doubt he is amassing them to use against our friends, against our allies, and against us." - Vice President Dick Cheney, Aug. 26, 2002.

"The problem here is that there will always be some uncertainty about how quickly he can acquire nuclear weapons. But we don't want the smoking gun to be a mushroom cloud." National security adviser Condoleezza Rice, Sept. 8, 2002.

"After 11 years during which we have tried containment, sanctions, inspections, even selected military action, the end result is that Saddam Hussein still has chemical and biological weapons and is increasing his capabilities to make more." - President Bush, Oct. 7, 2002.

"Saddam Hussein is a man who told the world he wouldn't have weapons of mass destruction, but he's got them." - Bush, Nov. 3, 2002.

"The gravity of this moment is matched by the gravity of the threat that Iraq's weapons of mass destruction pose to the world." - Secretary of State Colin Powell, Feb. 5, 2003.


"Although we have not found stockpiles of weapons of mass destruction, we were right to go into Iraq. ... We removed a declared enemy of America who had the capability of producing weapons of mass murder." - Bush, July 12, 2004.

"We got it wrong. We have seen nothing to suggest that he had actual stockpiles." - Powell, Oct. 1, 2004.

"We were all unhappy that the intelligence was not as good as we had thought that it was. But the essential judgment was absolutely right. Saddam Hussein was a threat." - Rice, Oct. 3, 2004.

"It turns out that we have not found weapons of mass destruction. Why the intelligence proved wrong I'm not in a position to say, but the world is a lot better off with Saddam Hussein in jail." - Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld, Oct. 4, 2004.

"He retained the knowledge, the materials, the means and the intent to produce weapons of mass destruction and he could have passed that knowledge on to our terrorist enemies." - Bush, Oct. 7, 2004.

"Based on what we know today, the president would have taken the same action because this is about protecting the American people." - White House press secretary Scott McClellan, on Wednesday.


The Answer? Either Waldo is incompetent beyond belief, incapable of separating truth from fiction, pathologically incapable of admitting he was wrong, or just flat lying. "All the above" is also an acceptable answer. No other answers are possible.

Posted by a Vet -- -- permanent link

Tuesday, January 11, 2005

It’s Been Just Two Months Since the Election…

…and once again, our veterans are being forgotten – by both sides of the aisle. I wish I could say that the Iraq war is an isolated case, but it isn’t. Both parties used veterans to their advantage in the campaign. Both sides now have other things to do. As noted on this blog before, veterans are three times more likely to be homeless than anybody else.

Here is just one story that ought to make you angry:

Not long ago, Pfc. Herold Noel proudly rumbled through the Iraqi desert with the first wave of American troops.

Today, he rambles through the streets of Brooklyn in an SUV looking for a place to sleep.

The 25-year-old father of four, who suffers from posttraumatic stress disorder and has been homeless for the better part of six months, may represent the beginning of a wave of troops returning from battle with no place to go.

"When I was in Iraq, I was fighting a war for the American dream," Noel told The Post. "Now, I'm fighting a different kind of war, but it's still a war for survival."

His wife and toddler son may join him on the streets. They are living with Noel's sister-in-law, but she is moving to a smaller apartment and can't take them in.

The Flatbush native, who enlisted in the Army at age 19, was a member of Expeditionary Unit 37 — the so-called "tip of the spear" — delivering fuel to the front lines during the March 2003 invasion of Iraq.

While there, Noel witnessed "things nobody should ever see," including comrades' limbs blown off and bodies littering the roadside.

Honorably discharged with a chest full of medals in August 2003, Noel spent some time in Hinesville, Ga., before packing up his 1994 red Jeep Cherokee and heading to New York last July.

But dreams of a sweet homecoming soon dissipated. After finding that his mother-in-law's home was too small, Noel and his family moved into his sister-in-law's house in Flatbush.

There, he, his wife and four kids shared one bed.

To make room, Noel began spending his days and nights in other places — ranging from homes of friends to Prospect Park to the inside of his SUV. Noel and his wife even pawned their wedding rings in an effort to get back on their feet.

Eventually, Noel took his family to the Emergency Assistance Unit in The Bronx, where he was told there was no more government-subsidized housing available.
"That's when my PTSD started to really kick in," he said.

He began suffering symptoms ranging from cold sweats to hearing voices. He's now regularly seeing a psychiatrist at the Fort Hamilton VA Hospital and has been prescribed three different medications, including trazodone, an antidepressant, and risperidone, an anti-psychotic.

But that's all the Army has provided. Noel said it takes up to a year for the Army to verify his claims of PTSD and begin sending him disability checks. Hank Minitrez, of the Army's "well-being" division, said there were "countless" private, nonprofit programs available to help vets like Noel, but admitted there is a problem relaying the information to ex-GIs in need.

Last month, Noel sent his 7-year-old, Stephon, and his twin 6-year-olds, Judy and Julian, to Florida to live with their maternal grandmother. Two-year-old Anthony has stayed with Noel and his wife.

"I'm not looking for a handout," Noel said. "I just want what I deserve for fighting for my country."
What can you do about this latest disgraceful treatment of veterans?

One way to get involved:
A disturbing national disgrace: America now faces a growing population of homeless Iraq War veterans. Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld and Veterans Affairs Secretary Nominee Jim Nicholson should be forced to tell us how many combat veterans are homeless, how many recent war veterans have psychological problems, and what our government is doing to provide healthcare for those veterans.
Another strong advocate for veterans is the National Coalition of Homeless Veterans. Check out their website as well.

My intention is not to put you on a guilt trip with the following statement, but: It’s not enough to put a yellow ribbon magnet on your car saying you support the troops. It’s time to really start supporting the very same people, and the millions who went before them, who are now veterans.

They need housing. They need medical care. They shouldn’t have to roam the streets. After they made great sacrifices for us, it’s time to return the favor.

Posted by a Vet -- -- permanent link

Friday, January 07, 2005

Rumsfeld Continues to Write the Book On Military Mismanagement

The irony of events: as Alberto Gonzales goes through Senate hearings which will outrageously confirm him for Attorney General, GIs continue to be court martialled for the abusive environment caused by Gonzales and Rumsfeld policies, or lack thereof.

And then there is Rumsfeld, who like W, is sending yet someone else to figure out what to do in Iraq. After three decades trying his best to screw up the military with his ideas, one more thing Rummy still hasn't learned is the military culture. By bringing in another retired military officer to try to solve Iraq, Rummy is essentially thumbing his nose at the extensive expertise and experience of his active duty senior leaders - or is it because he doesn't want to listen to them?

How many more times does Rumsfeld have to screw up?

Posted by a Vet -- -- permanent link

Thursday, January 06, 2005


Our near-Pulitzer Prize winning journalist was on the job again early this morning, positioning himself under some heavy winter coats in the Senate Judiciary cloak room so he couldn't be seen. While no transcript of the activities took place, he reported that the man nominated for Attorney General was practicing for his confirmation hearings with the help of an unnamed conservative senator on the committee. Our reporter first tried to make some money on the side by presenting his report to the Daily Show - but the script was rejected as not being satirical enough, and definitely not being funny. So reluctantly he provided the script to this blog. Here it is in its entirety, and I am proud to have this scoop on the blogosphere:

Senator X: Ok, let's get this going. I've got to get out of here before anybody sees me. I'm going to call you AG (for Attorney General), and I'm going to ask some of the tough questions you can expect to hear later today at the hearing.
AG: Hmmm 'AG' - that has a nice ring to it since it's also my initials.

SenX: Let's get serious. I'm going to put the heat on you right now. You've been accused of advocating torture of prisoners, executing minorities in high numbers, and laughing at the Geneva Conventions. How do you respond?
AG: As my favorite comedian Pat Paulsen used to say: 'Picky, picky, picky.'
SenX: Well, we need to put a human face on you or you wouldn't get confirmed even on Hitler's personal staff. How about we start with your childhood. Can you think of an event or incident when you were young that set you on your course to the Cabinet?

AG: Yes, that's easy - in 9th grade biology we were supposed to dissect a dead frog, but that wasn't very exciting, so I stole some of the teacher's hydrochloric acid out of her locked cabinet and put it in a large beaker. I then took one of her live lab rats by the tail and upside down dipped it into the...
SenX: Ok, Ok, I get the picture. Let's try another line of questioning. Your boss has his hair on fire about trial lawyers. Are you going to be putting your priorities there at first if you are confirmed?
AG: No, that's all a smokescreen I worked out with W.
SenX: Smokescreen? What do you mean?

AG: My real target is the jury system. I'm going to do away with it in the next four years.
SenX: Do away with the jury system? You can't do that - how will you justify that to the public?
AG: Oh that one's easy. I'll show that we will save billions and billions of dollars that we can use to pursue the war on terror - and maybe put a few dollars here and there toward education and social security.

SenX: But saving a ton of money won't offset the loss of individual rights will it?
AG: It did in Texas when I was their AG. I saved a million dollars for the state every time I executed someone.

SenX: But you mostly executed blacks and you executed more people than the next ten biggest states combined.
AG: I was just carrying out the provisions of the original U.S. Constitution.

SenX: Enlighten me, what do you mean by 'the original U.S. Constitution'?
AG: I'm surprised you don't know your Constitution, Senator. Try Article 1, Section 2, Clause 3. Slaves were counted as 3/5ths of a person, so just doing some simple math, I should be able to execute more of their descendants, right?

SenX: Are you insane? You can't say that at the hearing today. People will begin to believe you support slavery, as well!
AG: Why not, a lot of people do, and it's being taught in many school systems again around the country. In fact, my mansion in Georgetown is just too big for the wife to take care of, so a couple of slaves might come in handy.

SenX: You are nuts. Let's talk about something else. Don't you realize when you called the Geneva Conventions quaint and outdated that you put our own troops in danger? And isn't your advocacy of not allowing legal counsel to the prisoners in Cuba, and locking them away for life, a tad over the top in terms of human rights? What happens when our soldiers are captured and treated the same way?
AG: Hey, this is an all-volunteer military, isn't it? If they are a bunch of wimps, they ought to get out.
SenX: They can't because of 'stop-loss.'
AG: That's Rummy's problem.

SenX: I'm getting nowhere with you so far, so let's try yet something else. There's been a lot of commotion about the election process again, and in fact today, the electoral votes in Ohio may be challenged just down the hall. What are you going to do about the alleged 'irregularities?
AG: Doesn't matter. I've got my vote counting system in place for good. We won't even have another close election for the next 100 years.

SenX: How can you be so sure?
AG: We'll be getting all of our judges on the bench, and I've already perfected the computer programs to eliminate unwanted voters...
SenX: Such as?
AG: Blacks, Jews, Democrats, Muslims...
SenX: ...and Muslims. Great just what we need right now.
AG: Personally, I think Jerry Falwell said it best: ' them all over the world, if it takes ten years, blow them all away in the name of the Lord.'***

SenX: I think I've heard just about enough AG. You are truly a madman and...
AG: Oh, I think you will change your mind by the time the hearings start. I have it on good authority that you saw Fahrenheit 9/11 and that your blood line is 1/16th Middle Eastern. That's enough right there to lock you up indefinitely for questioning...
SenX: You've got to be kidding me. I'm a U.S. Senator and...
AG: And it's pretty easy to create evidence if I need it. For example, I've already got some photos of you and your 16-year old senate page...
SenX: That's outrageous. I've never... you son of a... (pause) hmmm, on second thought, I don't see any problem supporting your nomination, and I'll recommend that my colleagues do the same.

AG: Thank you senator. I knew you'd see it my way. As my first act as AG, I'm having a large sculpture of Joseph Mengele installed in the lobby of the Department of Justice. That will help set the tone for what I'm going to do afterwards...

*** CNN Late Edition With Wolf Blitzer, October 24, 2004

Posted by a Vet -- -- permanent link

Wednesday, January 05, 2005

Torture Justified and Rationalized - The Senate will vote to Confirm Gonzales

Military Veterans Oppose Gonzales Nomination for U.S. Attorney General:

Thousands Express Grave Concern to Congress about Nominee’s Interpretation of Geneva Conventions and the U.S. Constitution

Nearly 3,600 military veterans and military family members have expressed grave concerns about Alberto R. Gonzales, President Bush’s nominee for U.S. Attorney General in a letter to members of the Senate Judiciary Committee and other members of the U.S. Senate. The veterans’ primary concerns are Judge Gonzales' positions on U.S. adherence to the Geneva Conventions and protections from torture for military personnel under international and U.S. laws.

The letter to Congress cites Gonzales' controversial January 2002 memorandum advising President George W. Bush that he could exempt al Qaeda and Taliban prisoners from Geneva Convention protections, and an August 2003 Justice Department memo approved by Gonzales, which attempted to redefine torture. According to The Washington Post, the Justice Department last week reversed its position on the legality of torture of prisoners of war. “Acting Assistant Attorney General Daniel Levin said in the new memo that torture may consist of acts that fall short of provoking excruciating and agonizing pain and thus may include mere physical suffering or lasting mental anguish.” (Washington Post, 12/31/04)

What can you do?

See Veterans for Common Sense for some ideas. And read Mama's
account of Scott McClellan's White House briefing if you'd rather exist in a parallel universe.

Posted by a Vet -- -- permanent link

Tuesday, January 04, 2005

The AMA Sheds Light on Why Bush Won

From The American Medical Association News 12/20/04, "Pursuing the Placebo Effect:"
"Most recently, a study presented at last month's American Heart Assn. annual scientific sessions in New Orleans found that heart failure patients participating in a clinical trial who took all of their pills, whether in the placebo or active arm, had lower rates of death and hospitalization than those who weren't as conscientious. The rates for those taking placebo were not as good as those taking the active drug, but were still extremely close.

" 'There is still an advantage to being on active therapy,' said Brandi Granger, RN, PhD, lead author of the study and director of nursing research in the Duke University Heart Center in Durham, N.C. ' But the fact that you can do almost as well on a sugar pill is a reason for us to figure out why.'

What has this got to do with the Bush victory, you ask?

Simple. The Bush Sugar Pill Placebo works the same way: people will continue to believe something that everyone else knows is an utter lie. Even science can't explain it.

Posted by a Vet -- -- permanent link

Monday, January 03, 2005

Non-Leadership 101 (continued)

Having taken some heat from self-appointed Bush defenders via email, re my comments last week on their Leader’s non-response to the disaster, I decided to step back and think about this some more, because it seemed to me that Goat Book, Part II exactly characterizes this administration. The parroted response from the Right: “What would you have had him do, parade in front of the world on TV like Clinton would have done?”

The USA is now beginning to provide important support, but notice the pattern again, as in the past. Only after the administration realized (after everybody else) that something was wrong and the heat was becoming unbearable, did something start to happen.

The case of Colin Powell is illustrative. Notice that he has had to defend, perhaps once a day, W’s 72-hour blackout after the disaster. Powell has reason to seem a bit touchy. His reaction, for someone who carried 4 stars on his shoulders, was also appalling.

While out of town visiting relatives over the holidays, we turned on the hotel room TV on Dec 27th to find Powell in a State Dept news conference talking about the disaster. Already recognizing that this was a calamity of major proportions two days after the tsunami, Powell said the US had freed up $900,000 and that his department was studying the challenge closely. This was such an astounding initial non-response, that my wife and I involuntarily laughed out loud, in disbelief. The pictures were already all over the news. The disaster would be massive. He knew this before most of us did.

Not to be outdone, later that day, the White House issued a release that Mr. Bush had 'sent condolences' to several countries, was studying the problem, and was watching the ‘images’ on TV.

In my view, leadership has to do with choices and priorities. Not taking any substantive action publicly for 72 hours, while the rest of the world wondered what was going on with W, was in fact a choice - and a bad one.

Here was an opportunity not only to immediately pledge support for one of the worst natural disasters ever, but to begin to repair a lot of lost good will around the world. Instead the administration, bitten in the butt by initial media response, proudly responded that $35 million had now been pledged. Then bloggers and several news agencies reported that the figure was less than the estimated $40 million for the upcoming inauguration festivities. The heat turned up in the kitchen some more, and finally some action started.

The White House press release is instructive of a loss of leadership perspective. What would a good leader have said? There are lots of possibilities, but conviction and tone were important at that point.

Something like this would have shown real leadership:

"The first reports indicate that the magnitude of this disaster appears
to be enormous and widespread, and possibly unprecedented. The United States has a long history of helping its world neighbors in times of natural disasters, and we will do so promptly and with all the resources and determination we can bring to bear to help meet the needs of the nations and peoples involved. I will ask Congress to immediately act to provide the monetary, food, medical, and other logistics support to prevent additional unnecessary death and suffering. I will work closely with other nations to coordinate support and ensure it is both efficient and effective. Our prayers and thoughts go out to all affected. We are with you."

Sending letters of condolence is pro forma, and it's nice that he was
watching the ‘images' on TV. And 'studying the issue' was a nonsensical response, because all the rest of us around the world, looking at the same images, didn't need to do a lot of 'studying'.

So either this president has a continuing history of inappropriate response or non-response to disasters, or he lacks his self-proclaimed compassionate conservatism, or he lacks common sense, or his advisors gave him bad advice. There aren't many other options (unless you want to speculate about his desire to help mostly Muslim victims etc.). Regardless, he made the wrong choice – again.

So, you say, what’s the big deal, he is doing something now, isn’t he? No. That’s not good enough for the leader of the free world. By his non-action, until the media and political leaders from other countries scorched the White House, Mr. Bush sent a message – the wrong one.

This was not the leadership that should have been exhibited right away by any president - Bush, Clinton or anyone, period, in my book.


: The media was not without its stupid decisions as well. CNN had a recently rare advantage over other cable news networks, having some reporters immediately available in the region. On the 27th, after some good summary coverage and initial videos of the tsunami effects, Greg Jarrett on CNN chose to then air an interview with the Men's Journal editor who extolled the wonders of owning your own island. Having just aired the devastation in the South Asia islands, CNN showed no brains about airing this thoughtless interview. However, it did support the Bush Doctrine of 'go shopping after a disaster strikes.'

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