Thursday, January 26, 2006

Bill of Wrongs

What's currently 'out' with this administration?
Amendments 1, 4, 5, 6, 10, 11, 14, 15 to the U.S. Constitution
What's currently 'in'?
Amendment 2

Posted by a Vet -- -- permanent link

Monday, January 23, 2006

Unable to Get Support from Congress, the Attorney General Advised the President to Go Around FISA Anyway

The Attorney General, whose job it is to enforce the law, instead has found ways to work around it...

ADMINISTRATION CONTRADICTS ITSELF: The administration argues that, in addition to the President's unchecked power over anything he deems related to security, the power to conduct warrantless domestic surveillance was granted by Congress in 2001 through the Authorization for the Use of Military Force against al Qaeda. (Sen. Sam Brownback (R-KS) disagrees. Asked if the 9/11 resolution authorized the warrantless domestic surveillance program, Brownback replied, "It didn’t in my vote.") The administration's claims on this issue are not even internally consistent. On the one hand, the administration argues Congress gave them this power. But Attorney General Alberto Gonzales claims that the administration didn't go to Congress for the authority because Congress would have rejected them. At a press conference on Dec. 19, Gonzales said, "We have had discussions with Congress in the past -- certain members of Congress -- as to whether or not FISA could be amended to allow us to adequately deal with this kind of threat, and we were advised that that would be difficult, if not impossible."
Note that 'certain members of Congress' includes Republican Senators Specter, Graham, McCain, & Brownback. One question has yet to be answered simply by anyone in the administration: Why can't warrants be obtained, in accordance with the law?
Thanks for the link from Buzzflash

Posted by a Vet -- -- permanent link

Thursday, January 19, 2006

Former Reagan Official Blasts Bush Administration for Attempting to 'Swift-Boat' Rep. Murtha

James Webb, a secretary of the Navy in the Reagan administration, was a Marine platoon and company commander in Vietnam. One thing about the Marines - they don't take crap from anybody, regardless of party affiliation. They are getting a little sick and tired of being told what great combat veterans they are while being slammed by Neocon puppets who never served a day in their lives in combat:

It should come as no surprise that an arch-conservative Web site is questioning whether Representative John Murtha, the Pennsylvania Democrat who has been critical of the war in Iraq, deserved the combat awards he received in Vietnam.

After all, in recent years extremist Republican operatives have inverted a longstanding principle: that our combat veterans be accorded a place of honor in political circles. This trend began with the ugly insinuations leveled at Senator John McCain during the 2000 Republican primaries and continued with the slurs against Senators Max Cleland and John Kerry, and now Mr. Murtha.

Military people past and present have good reason to wonder if the current administration truly values their service beyond its immediate effect on its battlefield of choice. The casting of suspicion and doubt about the actions of veterans who have run against President Bush or opposed his policies has been a constant theme of his career. This pattern of denigrating the service of those with whom they disagree risks cheapening the public's appreciation of what it means to serve, and in the long term may hurt the Republicans themselves...

The political tactic of playing up the soldiers on the battlefield while tearing down the reputations of veterans who oppose them could eventually cost the Republicans dearly. It may be one reason that a preponderance of the Iraq war veterans who thus far have decided to run for office are doing so as Democrats.

Posted by a Vet -- -- permanent link

Tuesday, January 17, 2006

The Former Viceroy of Iraq Pushes His Book

Paul Bremer, interviewed by Tim Russert on Meet the Press, seemed to be very comfortable giving conflicting answers to the same questions regarding needed troop levels in Iraq. He now appears to be the only one, inside the administration and out, who believes his decision to dismantle the Iraqi military was a good one - but what the heck, it should sell a lot of books.

We would likely be on our way out of Iraq now without that decision.

Posted by a Vet -- -- permanent link

Friday, January 13, 2006

The DoD is Forcing Veterans Out of Its Healthcare System - 600,000 of Them!

Military veterans, who chose careers in the service to their country, are now being told that their medical benefits are being stripped away because they get too much, percentage-wise, in comparison to civilian counterparts. But what is the real reason? So that more money is available for this administration to make bad choices or choose wrong priorities for our troops in support of current operations (e.g. Iraq) - literally robbing Peter to pay Paul:

To their credit, Assistant Secretary of Defense (Health Affairs) Dr. William Winkenwerder and his principal deputy, Dr. Steve Jones, went out of their way to talk to military association representatives about why the Defense Department wants to double or triple TRICARE fees for (military) retired beneficiaries. They came to Alexandria, Virginia to spend an hour with more than 50 representatives of The Military Coalition… But it was a frustrating meeting on both sides, as Coalition members had lots of questions about the specifics of the new proposals that Winkenwerder said he couldn't yet answer...Barred from discussing details, Dr. Winkenwerder briefed the Coalition on why the Department feels the need to shift more costs to retirees. (Among) his principal points were:

*Health costs are rising faster than the rest of the Defense budget, mainly because of legislated benefit expansions, increasing retiree use of care, and general health inflation.
*The military health benefit is "extremely rich," with military retirees averaging $680 in out-of-pocket health costs a year, vs. $3700 for retirees from civilian employers.
*As private sector employers have cut back on health benefits, the percentage of retirees actually using TRICARE has risen from 66% in FY2002 to 78% for FY2006, and is expected to rise to 87% by 2011 if current trends continue.

When Dr. Winkenwerder solicited comments, Military Officers Association of America, MOAA's Steve Strobridge, said comparison of military vs. civilian health costs fails to consider some critical points:

*Military retirement benefits are the only offset provided for the unique and extraordinary demands inherent in a 20-30 year military career.
*Military retirees have paid far greater premiums than civilians; they just paid most of them in service and sacrifice rather than in cash.
*Further, he said the Pentagon should be asking Congress for a bigger defense budget to pay for the needed benefit improvements Congress has enacted rather than seeking to fund those other defense needs out of retirees' pockets.
*80% of the savings associated with these proposals come from the assumption that the fee increases would drive 600,000 retirees out of TRICARE.

Asked whether the Defense Department would propose additional fee increases if that level of migration and savings didn't materialize, Dr. Winkenwerder indicated that option might be among those considered if the assumptions prove wrong.

Posted by a Vet -- -- permanent link

Monday, January 09, 2006

Sham of 'Support the Troops' Exposed - Again

2006 starts out no different than 2005:

The Party of 'Values' - the Repugnicans - is now so tangled in its own underwear of corruption, being on the take from lobbyists, stripping your rights of privacy, and ripping off American Indian tribes, that they no longer can keep track of the conflicting stories they try to feed to the public - including their supposed support of the troops and veterans.

After more than a year of exposure in the media, and on blogs like this one, that the DoD was inadequately arming and protecting the troops, the problems never got really fixed - in spite of protestations that whatever 'supply' issues there were would be overcome. It took our troops on their own to upgrade the armor on Humvees, before the government decided that might be a good idea, and now even that protection is inadequate.

Similarly, with regard to body armor, the DoD said in the past that the armor was available, but that most troops chose not to wear it because it was too cumbersome. But amidst all the flak coming in on this administration comes the real truth once again - that the Pentagon is contributing to deaths on the battlefield needlessly through inaction, misplaced priorities or criminal negligence - take your choice.

So, veterans, how much more of this incompetence and misplaced priorities are you willing to take before you vote out the people responsible and all those appointed by them? Will it take the death of your son or daughter, grandson or granddaughter?

Posted by a Vet -- -- permanent link