CELEBRITY IN CHIEF BARRY O, FOREVER IN A DESPERATE SEARCH FOR ADULATION, HURRIED TO PUERTO RICO YESTERDAY AND OUR AMERICAN PRINCESS AND HIS ADVANCE TEAM LIED CLAIMING ONLY HE AND JFK VISITED PUERTO RICO AS PRESIDENT: GERALD FORD, YOU F**KING LOSERS, GERALD FORD. SCOTT HORSLEY WOULD HAVE KNOWN THAT IF HE COULD HAVE TAKEN BARRY O'S COCK OUT OF HIS MOUTH LONG ENOUGH TO ASK SOME NEEDED QUESTIONS.
MANGLING THE LANGUAGE IN A WAY THAT MADE BULLY BOY BUSH SOUND ELOQUENT BY COMPARISON, AMERICA'S PRINCESS DECLARED PUERTO RICO WAS AS AMERICAN AS APPLE PIE OR AS ARROZ CON GRANDULES. BUT ARROZ CON GRANDULES -- RICE WITH PIGEON PEAS -- IS NOT "AMERICAN." IT IS CONSIDERED PUERTO RICO'S "NATIONAL DISH." BY IT'S VERY NATURE, A DISH OF AN OCCUPIED COUNTRY (THE U.S. OCCUPIES PUERTO RICO), A DISH THAT IS CONSIDERED TO BE THE "NATIONAL DISH" CAN NOT ALSO REPRESENT ANOTHER NATION.
BARRY O NEEDS TO STICK TO PICKING OUT PANTIES. HE AND HIS CULT WITHIN THE PRESS CAN ALMOST MANAGE THAT.
FROM THE TCI WIRE:
CNN and AP both report that the US military has announced 2 US soldiers were killed yesterday. Other than stating the deaths took place in southern Iraq, the military had nothing else to say. Were there any wounded? As we noted yesterday they appear to
be under orders to no longer note when soldiers are injured. The 2 deaths announced
this morning follow last week's 6 deaths. 5 on Monday,: Spc Emilio J. Campo Jr., Spc Michael B. Cook Jr., Spc. Christopher B. Fishbeck, Spc Robert P. Hartwick and Pfc Michael C. Olivieri. Wounded? The military's refused to say but reports vary from five to fifteen. The sixth death was last Pfc Michael J. England on Wednesday. And though the military never bothered to inform the citizens of any wounded, thanks to Ryan E. Little (The Ledger) we know that Spc Charles Lemon was injured in the same Najaf bombing and "lost both legs and suffered other injuries including burns to his body."
to note 5 US soldiers died. It'll be interesting to see if the program makes time to note
the 2 deaths. The Pentagon counts [PDF format warning] 4464 US military deaths from the Iraq War -- that count does not include today's two deaths. After DoD identifies the fallen by name in a news release, the deaths will be added to the count.
[. . .]
[. . .]
Turning to the US Congress. We have to hearings but we'll probably only have room for one today. So let's drop back to yesterday. Monday afternoon, the House Veterans Affairs Subcommittee on Health held a hearing. On what? Last week, Ava reported on some very disturbing developments discussed in a Senate Veterans Affairs Committee hearing "Sexual assaults at the VA (Ava)." As Senate Veterans Affairs Committee Chair Patty Murray noted, the Government Accountability Office had just released "very disturbing information about sexual assaults among veterans in in-patient mental health and other programs." The veterans she referred to were assaulted within the VA, while attempting to obtain care and treatment, they were sexually assaulted. The House Veterans Affairs Subcommittee on Health is Chaired by Ann Marie Buerkle. We'll note this from her opening statement at yesterday's hearing.
Subcommittee Chair Ann Marie Buerkle: As a registered nurse and domsetic violence counselor, I have seen firsthand the pervasive and damaging effects sexual assault can have on the lives of those who experience it. Last week, the Government Acountability Office released a deeply troubling report entitled "VA Health Care: Actions Needed to Prevent Sexual Assaults and Other Safety Incidents." GAO found that between January 2007 and July 2010, nearly 00 sexual assault incidents including 67 alleged rapes were reported to VA police. Many of these alleged crimes were not reported to VA leadership officials or the VA Office of the Inspector General in direct violation of VA policy and federal regulations. The findings of the GAO are disturbing for many reason. Foremost, they represent a betrayal of trust by a system that was designed to treat our veterans at their most vulnerable time. The gross failure of VA leadership to protect the safety and security of our veterans and VA staff and systematically report and respond to sexual assault and safety incidents is a contempt of justice. It also requires immediate action. This is not the way to run a health care system and it is certainly no way to treat the men and women who sacrificed so much on our nation's behalf.
To telegraph how serious the House VA Committee -- not just the Subcommittee -- was taking this issue, not only did Subcommittee Chair Buerkle and House Veterans Affairs Committee Chair Jeff Miller introduce HR 2074, Miller also attended the hearing (he does not sit on the Subcommittee). HR 2074 is the Veterans Sexual Assault Prevention Act. It was introduced by Buerkle on June 1st and reads: "To amend title 8, United States Code, to require a comprehensive policy on reporting and tracking sexual assault incidents and other safety incidents that occur at medical facilities of the Department of Veterans Affairs." Click here to read the bill in full.
Miller noted, "In the past week, some have dismissed these allegations, comparing the size of the VA system and the number of allegations to the private sector. Let me be very clear on this point: There is no comparison. Just one assault of this nature, one sexual predator or one veteran's rights being violated within the VA is one too many and is absolutely unacceptable. If we need to do more to protect our veterans and VA employees, we will." Ranking Member
VA is doing a very poor job in many areas. Most of all it is doing a very poor job when it comes to reporting to Congress, when it comes to appearing before them. This really started to become noticeable last year and has only gotten worse this year. On the Senate Veterans Affairs Committee, this unacceptable behavior is most often called out by Senator Richard Burr. For his admonishing the VA last week, see Kat's "Senator Burr" and you can also search her site for additional reports on Burr (Kat usually emphasizes him when she reports on the Senate VA Committee) and you'll see this is not a one hearing problem. This is a pattern and it's really unacceptable. Ranking Member Burr and Committee Chair Murray have attempted to communicate that to the witnesses before them (and Ranking Member Burr and former Chair Daniel Akaka attempted to last year as well). If the message is getting through to the witnesses, they're not carrying it back to VA. That was evident in yesterday's hearing with the first panel. The panel was composed of GAO's Randall Williamson, VA's Joseph Sullivan and VA's William Schoenhard. We're noting an exchange. I'm referring to Jeff Miller as "US House Rep" so that there's no confusion as to who was chairing the Subcommittee hearing but, as already noted, he is the Chair of the House Veterans Affairs Committee.
US House Rep Jeff Miller: The [GAO] report covers '07 to July of 2010. Can you tell me what the statistics are from July of 2010 to today of sexual assaults that have been reported within the system?
William Schoenhard: Uh, sir, we do not have that information available here today but we will provide that to you.
US House Rep Jeff Miller: Would it have been a reasonable expectation that somebody might be asking that question?
William Schoenhard: Uh. We. Uh. Had not anticipated that question but we do have the information. We can provide that to you in short order, sir.
US House Rep Jeff Miller: If you would, for the record, so that we can make sure that all members have the answer to that question. When can we expect it?
William Schoenhard: Uh. We would provide that, sir, within three weeks.
US House Rep Jeff Miller: Three weeks?
William Schoenhard: Yes, sir. I want to make sure that we have all the information together in a complete way. We will try to provide it sooner.
US House Rep Jeff Miller: I hope that you have all the information together and that it won't take you three weeks.
This hearing was specifically called by Subcommittee Chair Ann Marie Buerkle in response to the GAO report. The witnesses knew that. Why in the world would a question about sexual assaults after the period covered in the GAO's report throw the VA? They were not prepared for the hearing unless their point was to stall. This is unacceptable. They do this over and over. The VA avoids providing any hard data in these hearings over and over. Why? Because the reporters are present. If they can provide the figures after the hearing, the reporters have packed up and moved on. Which means, if they don't have to answer it in the hearing, there's a good chance it won't be reported.
If this is an accident, it is a freakish one since a pattern has clearly emerged. Miller was clearly surprised to be told that the VA witnesses had arrived for the hearing without that information. He was also surprised when he was told that they had the information, but it would take three weeks to get it to Congress. Why? If they've got the information, it should be delivered to the Subcomittee within 24 hours. It's a spreadsheet, you input the numbers. No one's asking them to devise a new system of measurement or invent a new graph. They just have to plug in the numbers.
If you're not getting how much stalling and evasion is taking place, please note that it was pointed out that money allocated for securing VA properties was being spent elsewhere. It was noted by members of the committee.
US House Rep John Runyan: Mr. Schoenhard, the GAO found a number of facilities that were understaffed. Specifically there was one that, by criteria, there was supposed to be 19 and there was only 9 on hand. Why have you not been able to staff these facilities fully?
William Schoenhard: Uh, Congressman, that's a very important question because we need to be fully staffed with police coverage and that is part of what I am seeking to understand in, uh, our current survey of our field. Uh, I want to understand better what the retention and the recruitment difficulties are with that and see what steps need to be taken to address those.
US House Rep Jon Runyan: Do you -- that was going to be my next question. Do you have an idea of retention problem? Is there a major turnover within the system?
William Schoenhard: There is turnover which varies, sir, by facility and uhm that too is what I want to get a better sense of. [. . .]
He wants to get a better sense of it? The Deputy Under Secretary for Health Operations and Management for the VA should have already had a sense of it before he showed for the hearing. In addition, the economy's in the tank. How do you have problems hiring people? Equally true, from 2008 through 2010, the House Committee repeatedly asked all VA witnesses if they needed anything, additional resources, anything. They were repeatedly told that nothing was needed.
If a VA is understaffed, the VA, high up in the VA, should be aware of that and should be addressing it. If a sexual assault is reported at that VA and it is under staffed, the VA should have had their own emergency meetings to address that and should have arrived in Congress with answers. They didn't provide answers. They begged off repeatedly.
RECOMMENDED: "Iraq snapshot"
"2 US soldiers announced dead, hostages taken in Baquba"
"Death penalty, War Crimes and more"
Cedric's "Barry's got plenty of ideas -- always bad ones" and Wally's "THIS JUST IN! ROUGH WATERS!" went up. That was their joint-humor post. The non-humor posts last night revolved around a theme: write a book you have and that you've selected at random: Mike's "Kiss Kiss Bang Bang" (Pauline Kael's movie critiques), Trina's "Collected Stories" (Tennessee Williams' Collected Stories), Rebecca's "pigs at the trough" (Arianna Huffington book), Kat's "Rock Encyclopedia" (the classic text), Ann's "4 men, 1 woman" (Gore Vidal's Perpetual War for Perpetual Peace), Marcia's "Embassytown" (China Mieville's new novel), Elaine's "Left Bank and Other Stories" (short stories by Jean Rhys), Ruth's "The Computer Wore Tennis Shoes" (novelizations of Disney films in an attempt to increase reading among children -- this is a novelization of a Disney film starring Kurt Russell), Betty's "Lorraine Hansberry: The Collected Plays" (the title says it all but for any who might not place the name immediately, she is the playwright who wrote A Raisin in the Sun) and Stan's "The Best Democracy Money Can Buy" (Greg Palast's classic book).