Thursday, December 03, 2009

Everyone pitches in! (Not really)






Last night Barack Obama gave a speech at West Point in which he flashed every last one of his War Hawk feathers. It was so outrageous that Democratic Party boot licker and professional party girl Tom Hayden insists he's taking the Obama bumper sticker off his car. (Or at least off his wife's car.) It's outrageous, fumes Pock Marks On His Soul, but not that outrageous apparently since he goes on to insist: "I'll support Obama down the road against Sarah Palin, Lou Dobbs or any of the pitchfork carriers for the pre-Obama era." The pre-Obama era. One year is now an era? Well, Tom was never smart or informed. Tom's on the prowl (women, watch out) and ready to 'organize' and 'fight' as he insists on "no bumper sticker until the withdrawal strategy is fully carried out." Then he boasts, "the fight is on." Yes, he truly is a limp dick and that's been a fortunate thing for many a woman. Kisses, Tom-Tom, kisses. Remember back in April 2008 when Doug Henwood (at ZNet) rightly pointed out of Barry O, "And despite the grand claims of enthusiasts, he doesn't really have a movmeent behind him -- he's got a fan club. How does a fan club hold a candidate accountable?" As Tom-Tom always demonstrates, they don't.

Unlike the eternal bobby-soxer Hayden, Justin Raimondo (Antiwar) doesn't feel the need to stroke Barack to climax:

Those who were hoping for some real change in our rhetoric, if not our foreign policy, with Obama in the White House are no doubt sorely disappointed right now, because George W. Bush could just as easily have spoken these very same words – and, indeed, he did utter endless variations on this identical theme when justifying our actions in both Iraq and Afghanistan. Yet the truth of the matter is that there are barely one-hundred al-Qaeda fighters in the whole of Afghanistan – so what are we doing there?

Rebecca never drank the Kool-Aid and she weighed in last night noting, "there is no difference between bush and barack. none. and that realization is making my stomach feel awful. ulcers, i'm sure." Cindy Sheehan (Cindy's Soapbox) explains, "Obama is just another coward that has risen to the highest office in the world and I am tired of having to be shoved by crazy people, chased and shot at by police, tear-gassed, arrested, called names that make even me blush, scrimping for every penny to stay afloat in this peace business, traveling and protesting to the point of exhaustion, etc. Not only did Obama condemn 30,000 troops to horror, with just one speech, he also condemned the real anti-war movement that was opposed to his policies from the beginning, to many more years of our sacrifices." Betty's very young and very pretty daughter got it, "Mommy, I'm sorry. I know it's wrong to hate but he's sending more people to die." Mike shared, "I had to get up every few minutes during the speech. He's such a damn liar. I couldn't take him for too many minutes straight. He such a liar and he revealed that tonight. Let's see who has the guts to stand up and call him out? I bet it'll be the same group of us who always have. And the usual Kool Aid drinkers will find a way to suddenly be in love with war." Chris Floyd (Empire Burlesque) would fall into "the same group" category since he's long exposed Barack's War Hawk nature -- on last night's speech he notes, "Barck Obama's speech, and the policies embraced in it, and the sinister implications underlying it, are all abysmally awful. They are a death warrant not only for the thousands of Afghan and Pakistani civilians who will be killed in the intensified conflict, but also for the countless thousands of innocents yet to die in the coming gnerations of a world roiled and destabilized by an out-of-control empire." Floyd references Arthur Silber's take which opens with:

To all those who repeatedly claimed that, no matter what "mistakes" he might make and regardless of the scope of the devastating effects of those errors, Obama had to represent a markedly better choice than McCain, take note: in certain respects, Obama is far more dangerous than McCain could have been. For the same reasons, Obama is also more dangerous than Bush was. I remind you that I have written numerous essays damning Bush for almost every single one of his policies. It is hardly the case that I viewed Bush in anything approaching a positive light, however remotely. In large part, the danger represented by Obama arises from the fact that Obama's election gutted whatever effective opposition might have existed. To their eternal shame, the Democrats never opposed Bush in any way that mattered -- but at least the possibility of opposition had not been obliterated entirely. In the near term and probably for longer, that possibility now appears to have been extinguished.

Cedric's "Barry's boo-boos" and Wally's "THIS JUST IN! BARRY BOMBS!" had the herculian task of attempting to fact check the wily Barack who insisted April 9, 2009 that he was asking Congress for the last war supplemental but last night acknowledged he'd be asking them for another one (for at least $30 billion) and who self-stroked last night by declaring he "will close Guantanamo" -- uh, after being sworn in, he said Guantanamo would be closed by the end of this year. As of today, he has 29 days before 2009 is over. He might want to forgo yet another trip out of the country this month and instead sit his ass down and get to work. Back to Justin Rainmondo who especially found interesting Barry O's fact-free comments on the Iraq War:

"Then, in early 2003, the decision was made to wage a second war in Iraq. The wrenching debate over the Iraq war is well-known and need not be repeated here. It is enough to say that for the next six years, the Iraq war drew the dominant share of our troops, our resources, our diplomacy, and our national attention -- and that the decision to go into Iraq caused substantial rifts between America and much of the world."
Yes, the bad thing about the Iraq war wasn't that it needlessly killed thousands -- many thousands of Iraqis, and a far lesser number of Americans. Oh no: the really really bad thing about it was that it diverted attention and resources away from the battle Obama wanted to fight, the one in Afghanistan and Pakistan. That all happened in the bad old days of Republican rule, however, before the invention of "hope":"Today, after extraordinary costs, we are bringing the Iraq war to a responsible end. We will remove our combat brigades from Iraq by the end of next summer, and all of our troops by the end of 2011 ... We have given Iraqis a chance to shape their future, and we are successfully leaving Iraq to its people."
What a crock: we have given Iraqis eight years of utter horror, including hundreds of thousands of dead, countless wounded, a sectarian civil war that still rages, and a government just as tyrannical and unaccountable as the one we overthrew, if not more so. If that's "success," then I'd hate to see what failure looks like.

Iraq? As we noted Sunday at Third in "Editorial: Barack The Never Ending Liar," Barry O promised to pull a brigade out of Iraq each month after being sworn in. But never lived up to that promise, now did he? Trivia question: Who said this in response to Barack's promise to end the Iraq War in 2009: "But these were words worth holding the candidate to. The astonishing thing is that antiwar sentiment among Obama's base is running strongly enough to push the candidate forward to a stronger commitment."??????????? Why it's Tom-Tom Hayden. And just as soon as he gets done peeling his bumper sticker off his latest wife's car, maybe he can explain how he thinks he ever held Barack to those words? World Socialist Web Site's editorial board weighs in today on the speech:

The most glaring contradiction in a speech shot through with contradictions was Obama's attempt to disentangle the war in Afghanistan from the war in Iraq. "I opposed the war in Iraq," he said, "precisely because I believe that we must exercise restraint in the use of military force ..." But he was unable to establish any essential difference between that criminal enterprise and his war in Afghanistan.
Obama's escalation is yet another flagrant violation of the will of the American people. In one election after another, they have gone to the polls to express their hostility to the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. In every case, their will has been ignored and the wars have been expanded.
Obama won the presidency by running as an opponent of the Iraq war and appealing to popular opposition to militarism. Once in office, he quickly increased the US deployment in Afghanistan by 21,000, while reneging on his promise to carry out a rapid withdrawal from Iraq. Now he is increasing the total US troop level in Afghanistan to 100,000, more than double the level under Bush.

Staying in the US, we'll move over to Congress. "I think all of us over our time of service on the committee," US House Rep Bob Filner declared today, "hear about issues that suggest that sometimes federal funds may not be flowing to the local VA facilities in the way that we had envisioned -- either efficiently or effectively -- to best serve our veterans." Filner was chairing the House Veterans Affairs Committee's hearing on VA Health Care Funding: Appropriations to Programs. Chair Filner noted that there is currently a hiring freeze at the VA medical centers in his district "which my be linked to the growing queues that our veterans face for medical health care appointments." Chair Filner represents the 51st House District in California which can be summarized as southern half of the county of San Diego and Imperial County.

US House Rep Steve Buyer is the Ranking Member. In his opening remarks he addressed the allocation process. Following the hearing, his office released the following statement which covers that topic as well as what's been done since the hearing:

Today, Ranking Member Steve Buyer said he will request an independent review of the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) allocation process to help ensure that each VA medical center is able to provide timely treatment for veterans.
Buyer pointed to the need for the study during a full House Committee on Veterans' Affairs hearing on the resource distribution process that occurs between VA's Veterans Integrated Service Networks (VISNs) and its 153 medical centers.
Chairman Bob Filner and members on both sides of the aisle, including Subcommittee Chairs Mike Michaud and Stephanie Herseth-Sandlin, and Subcommittee Ranking Members Dr. Phil Roe and Henry Brown, agreed to join Buyer in a joint letter requesting a Government Accountability Office (GAO) review of the process.
Members on both sides of the aisle also expressed special concern about how the allocation process affects veterans in highly rural areas. Michaud, Herseth-Sandlin, and Roe all inquired how VISN directors ensure that facilities affiliated with medical centers, such as outpatient clinics, are afforded proper consideration in funding requests.
"Over the past twelve years, VA has relied on a decentralized funding model for the VISNs to fund their respective medical centers," Buyer said. "VA provides general guidance but permits a substantial amount of flexibility to allow for a more patient-centric process at the local level."
"I believe this requires clear delineation of responsibility, careful planning, and performance measures to gauge coordination and accountability. Therefore, it is prudent for us to ask the key questions such as whether the allocations should be formula-driven or standards based with real-time analysis."
"It has been five years since GAO has placed its eyes on VA funding allocation issues, so I will request that it perform a review of the criteria and process VA has established for VISNs, how VA ensures that VISNs comply with those criteria, and how VA centrally tracks and assesses the distribution and use of the funds at the medical center level."
"Accurate assessment of these measures is critical to VA's ability to provide timely access to quality veterans' care, and prevent delays that could be detrimental to veterans with critical conditions and those with special health care needs."

The hearing was composed of two panels. The panel was Clyde Parkis who has many credits including being a Vietnam veteran, many years with the Department of Veterans Affairs as well as the former director of Veterans Integrated Service Network. The second panel was composed of the Department of Veterans Affairs' Rita Reed and Michael S. Finegan (Finegan was accompanied by William Schoenhard and W. Paul Kearns III).

Parkis's prepared statement is posted here (if that doesn't work go to the Committee's hearings page and select it -- but I'm told the bugs have been worked out and that link will work). Chair Filner said the statement would be entered in full into the record and encourage Parkis to utilize his opening five minutes hitting additional topics. We'll note this from his opening remarks where he's speaking of his time working for the Department of Veterans Affairs.

Clyde Parkis: As a Vietnam veteran, I sometimes have trust issues and it took me a long time to figure out who to -- who to trust in the process as we move through the budget cycles. I was aware that OMB liked to screen VA testimony before it came to the committees and I thought sometimes that prevented us from asking for what we thought we really needed. I was told to say, 'We don't have our budget official yet so I can't speculate on the impact of that.' That made it difficult to answer my local Congressman in terms of what was going on with the VA. And I thought some of that was actually coming from this Committee but maybe that was not the case. As I gained some trust over time, there are some things I wished I had spoken up about a little -- a little earlier.

OMB is the Office of Management and Budget and falls under the executive branch of the federal government. That statement, an important one, wasn't an issue in the questioning. Despite the fact that this committee and every other one has heard that answer repeatedly "no final budget, can't speculate." Instead, there were questions regarding the counting of veterans, US House Rep David Roe praised the VA outpatient clinics (CBOCs) and wondered how they were determined? Parkis explained, "It was a combination of where the veterans are -- you look at your demographics spread out by zip code or by county -- and in addition to that where are you experiencing the demand?"

US House Rep Harry Teague noted how, in New Mexico (his state), "the number of people who have to travel five, six hours" to a VA "is pretty large." And he also wanted to drop back to Roe's questions and know about the outpatient and how New Mexico might qualify so that "people don't have to drive five, six hours" to get care? Parkis began stressing tele-care (health care over the phone). Since many of the veterans Teague is speaking of (we speak to veterans groups in New Mexico quite often) are complaining about the lengthy drives to Alberquerque for check ups or to diagnose new issues, it's not really clear how tele-care would assist them in that.

US House Rep Ann Kirkpatrick worried that "demand" qualification might hurt rural areas where many factors effected how many veterans in an area utilized a VA facility. This includes some veterans, including Native American veterans, who do not access care because they aren't aware of the care that is available. Parkis identified Prescott, Arizona as one such area and Kirkpatrick agreed it was. He suggested outreach, "talking to the tribal leaders" and insisted that "most health care these days is actually chronic not acute." Kirkpatrick's concerns really weren't addressed by Parkis who admitted rural areas really weren't his expertise; however, Chair Filner said that in "January we're going to be concentrating on rural -- access for rural veterans because everything you say is right."

Moving to Iraq, Saturday barriers around the US base in Basra collapsed. Steven Edwards (CANWEST News Service) reports that the US military is insisting the collapse was not a result of mortar attacks or any other attack but a result of "rainfall". Because Iraq is infamous for rainfall. In fact, dust storms are a thing of the long ago past. Right? Right? (No.) In other news, Li Xianzhi (Xinhua) reports armed clashes between US forces and Iraqis "guarding their own homes" in Baquba today which resulted in the death of 1 Iraqi and three more injured. Xianzhi quotes a police source who states, "The gunmen thought the [US] soldiers approaching their homes were insurgents." Xianzhi quotes the source explaining a US helicopter was called and it "bombed a house and totally destroyed it".

RECOMMENDED: "Iraq snapshot"
"Barack and Other War Hawks"
"Xinhua shows up CNN"
"The Cowardly Kucinich"
"Bob Somerby & the Corn Princess"
"The War Hawk and those who support him"
"barack and the goons who love him"
"Another blow to equality"
"Depressing time in the House and Senate"
"Not one word from me on the War Hawk (promise)"
"Look who's crying now"
"The Curious Mister Erik Prince"
"Barry's boo-boos"

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