BULLY BOY PRESS & CEDRIC'S BIG MIX -- THE KOOL-AID TABLE
UNITED STATES ARMY MAJOR STEFAN FREDERICK COOK IS A CONSCIENTIOUS OBJECTOR WHO HAS REFUSED TO SERVE IN AFGHANISTAN.
THE MILTIARY HAS SCHEDULED A TRIAL TO DETERMINE WHETHER HE CAN REFUSE OR NOT. HIS GROUNDS ARE THAT HE DOES NOT BELIEVE BARACK OBAMA, CELEBRITY IN CHIEF, IS A U.S. CITIZEN.
FOR STATING THAT, HE'S BEEN RIDICULED AND SINCE THE ONLY ONE PRESENT IN THE DELIVERY ROOM WAS STANLEY DUNHAM AND SHE'S NOW DEAD, MUST BE A LOT OF MEN AND WOMEN THINK THEIR NIPPLES NURSED BARRY.
IF HE'S A U.S. CITIZEN IT SHOULDN'T BE A PROBLEM. IF HE'S NOT, HE'S NOT. THE MAJOR'S OPINION IS HIS OWN AND HE'S ENTITLED TO HAVE IT IN A TRUE DEMOCRACY. IF BARACK PROVIDED PROOF THAT HE WAS A U.S. CITIZEN, THE MAJOR COULD STILL BELIEVE WHAT HE WANTED. THAT'S HOW DEMOCRACY WORKS.
IT'S ALL SO CONFUSING FOR . . . THE WORST DRAMA QUEEN IN THE WORLD!
KEITH OLBERMANN TOOK TO HIS SHOW TONIGHT TO CALL THE ARMY A COWARD AND WORSE. SOFT PUNK KEITH WANTED THE WORLD TO KNOW -- OR AT LEAST MSNBC'S TINY AUDIENCE TO KNOW -- THAT, DURING VIETNAM, HE DECIDED IF THEY DRAFTED HIM, HE WOULDN'T GO AND THAT HE WAS APPALLED THAT "MAJOR COOK DOESN'T HAVE THE GUTS TO DO THAT."
CONFESSIONS OF A MIDDLE AGED DRAMA QUEEN ARE NEVER PRETTY.
KEITH OLBERMANN WAS BORN IN JANUARY OF 1959. THEN-SENATOR MIKE GRAVEL ENDED THE DRAFT IN 1971 VIA A FILUBUSTER. THE DRAFT ENDED WHEN
KEITH WAS 12-YEARS-OLD. BUT HE WANTS TO PRETEND LIKE HE WAS AN ADULT DURING VIETNAM AND MAKING DIFFICULT DECISIONS, MAN.
FROM THE TCI WIRE:
Yesterday's snapshot covered the Senate Committee on Veterans Affairs hearing on women veterans health care issues. Senator Daniel Akaka chaired the committee hearing. Kat covered the hearing last night. And? Not a lot more going on. Adam Levine (CNN) filed a strong report and emphasized the GAO:
The report by the Government Accountability Office found wide variation in the medical centers' facilities and programs for female veterans. Investigators visited 18 veterans' facilities and found that basic services, like pelvic examinations, were being provided and that patients had access to female providers for gender-specific care. But the facilities were lacking in some simpler accommodations, such as the configuration of exam rooms and privacy in check-in areas. The department says it is taking comprehensive steps to improve, including programs for primary care and mental health care for female veterans, along with having a female veterans' program manager in each of its medical facilities.
McClatchy's Carrie Williams covered it with an overview of the hearing and Kimberly Hefling (AP) covered the hearing and noted, "Female veterans told the Senate Veterans' Affairs committee that VA workers need to be better educated about combat situations that women face in the two ongoing wars. Beyond privacy concerns, there are other issues as well, they said, such as a lack of child care at VA hospitals and difficulty in finding diaper-changing tables." Today the Committee released the following statement:
WASHINGTON, D.C. -- Senator Daniel K. Akaka (D-HI), Chairman of the Veterans' Affairs Committee, held an oversight hearing to outline gaps in VA care for women veterans and highlight strategies to bridge those gaps. Akaka gathered a panel of women veterans and representatives from the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) and the Government Accountability Office to share their personal experiences and views on the VA system. The witness testimony yesterday illustrated the gap between the Department's wide array of services for women veterans and the actual experiences of many women veterans.
"VA plans many valuable programs and services for women veterans. However, our witnesses demonstrated that VA must do more than just set mandates -- the Department must ensure that women veterans know about the services available to them and are given assistance to receive them," said Akaka.
• Genevieve Chase, a veteran of Operation Enduring Freedom, and founder and executive director of American Women Veterans. During her service in OEF, Ms. Chase was attacked by a suicide vehicle-borne, improvised explosive device (IED) and returned home with symptoms of PTSD and TBI.
• Jennifer Olds, who served during the first Gulf War. She discussed her experiences dealing with Military Sexual Trauma (MST), the difficulties of rehabilitating, and the strengths and weaknesses of the care she received at VA.
• Kayla Williams, who was part of the initial invasion of Iraq in 2003 and is currently on the Board of Directors of Grace After Fire. As a soldier with the 101st Airborne Division (Airborne Assault), she came under small arms fire and was mortared -- an experience she shares with other women veterans despite the myth that female servicemembers don't experience combat situations. She testified about VA care from her own experiences.
• Tia Christopher, a veteran and Women Veterans Coordinator for Swords to Plowshares. VA determined she has service connected PTSD associated with MST. She described for the committee the changes she has seen since her discharge eight years ago and the need for additional changes, such as child care for male and female veterans.
• Joy Ilem, a veteran and Deputy National Legislative Director for the Disabled American Veterans. She testified that when she left the service in the 1980s, there was little to no information for women veterans and that she neither recognized herself as a veteran or knew she was entitled to VA benefits for disabilities she incurred in service. Two decades later, Ms. Ilem feels that VA is finally taking steps in the right direction to address the needs of women veterans.
The Veterans Health Care Reauthorization Act (S. 252), Chairman Akaka's omnibus veterans' health care bill that was unanimously approved by the Committee earlier this summer includes provisions to help VA understand why outreach to women veterans is falling short by identifying the barriers women veterans face when seeking care from VA. S.252 would also authorize VA to:
• Implement a program to educate, train, and certify professionals to provide MST-related mental health care (more background here); • Establish a pilot program to provide child care for veterans who require intensive care and are primary caretakers; • Report to Congress whether there is at least one full-time women veterans' program manager at each VA Medical Center; and • Provide care for the newborns of eligible women veterans.
The Chairman's opening statement, as well as the witnesses' written testimony including the Government Accountability Office's audit of VA health care for women, is available here.
And we'll revisit the second panel, composed of women veternas: Grace After Fire's Kayla Williams, Iraq Veteran Project Swords to Plowshares' Tia Christopher, the VFW's Jennifer Olds, American Women Veterans' Genevieve Chase and Disabled American Veterans' Joy J. Ilem, briefly to note Senator Patty Murray's round of questions.
Senator Patty Murray: Ms. Williams, you mentioned that you were both a care giver and a care seeker. You're husband was in the military. I assume that that is fairly common for a woman to be married to a fellow military officer and be in the same position. What can be done to help us care for women veterans who are not only dealing with their own readjustment issues but our dealing with spouse or children as well?
Kayla Williams: I think that it's important that care be more comprehensive. And you're right, the percentages are very high. Among active duty enlisted married female service members, over 50% are married to other service members -- compared to only 8% of their male peers. And my husband and I were both enlisted. I know that the VA is trying very hard to do outreach. I once got a call, for example, asking if I had sustained a Traumatic Brain Injury as part of their outreach efforts to make sure that they're catching everybody. And I said, "No, I didn't but I'm glad you called because my husband did and our family is in shambles right now I don't know how to hold myself together and my family together and keep my job and I'm struggling really hard here. And he said, "Well I can't really help you with that. I'm calling to ask if you've suffered a brain injury." And that's the way that I think that we can try to make sure that we're addressing entire families. If you have one -- if you have a service member who has sustained an injury -- both while they're in the DoD and once they've transitioned to VA care -- making sure that their familiy is being taken care of is an important step. I know The VA does not cover care for family members but if they learn that the spouse is also a veteran, it's important that they take the extra step and reach out and contact them proactively and ask if they need help as a caregiver. And, of course, this does apply to both male and female spouses, it's just the number of female spouses is much higher.
US Senator Patty Murray: I hear a lot from women about the access of child care being a barrier to the VA. You, several of you, mentioned this in your testimony and I don't think a lot of people realize that you tell a woman there's no child care, they just simply don't go, they don't get their health care. Do you for all the panelists, do you think that the VA providing child care would increase the number of women veterans who go to the VA and get the care that they need? Joy?
Joy Ilem: I would say definitely. I think researchers have repeatedly shown this as a barrier for women veterans and that's the frustration, you know? How many research surveys do you have to do when women keep saying this is a barrier to access for care? And I think it was Kayla who mentioned the experience of someone who was told it was inappropriate for them to bring their child with them and some of these very personalized for appointments for mental health or other things -- it may be very difficult but they have no other choice. I think it would definitely be a benefit and we would see an increase in the number of women veterans who would probably come to VA.
Senator Patty Murray: Ms. Williams?
Kayla Williams: I definitely think that usage rates of the VA would increase if women knew that they had child care available. There are a variety of innovative ways that we could try to address the problem of women having to balance their needs of child care with their needs to get services. Among them would be increasing the availability of tele-help and tele-medicine where women don't have to necessarily go all the way to a remote facility and spend four hours trying to get to and from and then be in-care. And there are also opportunities for innovative programs. For example, the VA has small business loans available if they could provide loans to women veterans who want to provide child care facilities near VA facilities, that would be a great way to try to marry these two needs. There are also a lot of community organizations that stand ready and waiting to help that would be happy just given a small office to staff it with volunteers and be able to provide that care for the time that a woman has to be in appointment. I think, as many others have said, the specific solutions may vary by location but there are a lot of innovative way that we could forge public-private partnerships to try to meet these needs.
We'll be covering the topic again tomorrow. If you use the link in the press release from the Committee, you'll not only have their written testimony, you'll also have the option of streaming the hearing. Genevive Chase was on the second panel and she was part of last Wednesday's Voices of Honor press conference. US House Rep Patrick Murphy is gathering public attention to the need to repeal Don't Ask, Don't Tell. Monday he was on the start of NPR's The Diane Rehm Show with USA Today's Susan Page filling in for Diane.
Susan Page: Before we go to our panel, though, we're joined on the phone from Bucks County Pennsylvania by Patrick Murphy. He's the Democratic Congressman from Pennsylvania's eight district and an Iraq War veteran. Congressman, thank you for joining us.
US House Rep Patrick Murphy: Thanks so much, Susan, for having me on. I appreciate it.
Susan Page: Now last week you announced that you would lead an effort to get Congress to repeal Don't Ask, Don't Tell. What - what would your bill do?
US House Rep Patrick Murphy: Sure. It will repeal the discrimantory practice which is in effect right now: The Don't Ask, Don't Tell policy does not allow the gay soldiers to serve openly in the military. And, Susan, the reason why this policy needs to be repealed, uh, right away is because it is hurting our national security. We have let go over 13,000 troops. That's over three-and-a-half combat brigades at a time when our troops are fighting in Iraq and Afghanistan and we need every qualified and able-bodied individual to serve in our military.
Susan Page: Now what kind of experiences did you have on this issue when you were serving in Iraq?
US House Rep Patrick Murphy: Sure. Well first, you know, when I was in Baghdad as a paratrooper with the 82nd Airborne Division, you know, there were obviously gay soldiers [. . .] there were gay soldiers serving with us. You know, it's, people knew it but they didn't talk about it. The fact is that our troops, when they're - when they're in Baghdad or whether they're in Kabul, Afghanistan, they don't care whether you're gay or straight, what religion you are, what color you are, what creed you are, they care whether or not you can fire an M4 assault rifle, whether or not you can kick down a door, can you get the job done. That's the important thing, not what your orientation is.
Susan Page: Now President Obama campaigned last year during the presidential election opposing Don't Ask, Don't Tell so why not have him issue an executive order that would change this policy or lift it?
US House Rep Patrick Murphy: Sure. Well first it was an act of Congress that put this all into place, the Don't Ask, Don't Tell policy. And it will take an act of Congress to repeal it. You know, when I was a Democrat -- and I've only been in Congress, as you know Susan, for two and a half years -- you know I used to have a hard time and I used to criticize President Bush when we would pass laws and he would have these executive signing statements that basically would say, "I know Congress passed such and such, but we're going to ignore that part of it." That's not having the proper respect for co-equal government.
And it just got worse, oh so much worse. Patrick apparently believes you're Dumb Ass Stupid and unaware that Barack's doing the same signing statements today -- most recently with regards to the IMF issue in his war supplemental. And there's something really pathetic about the approach he's pushing. I'm not talking about his shameful covering for Barry O. I'm talking about this bulls**t of, "Our national interest!" What does it remind you of because it reminds me of Bette Midler in Big Business at the big stock holder meeting saying that they're appealing to your instinct to "Save your own ass!" It's really pitching it to the lowest, basest argument around and, in doing so, it's telling you a great deal about how the American people are seen. It's disgusting.
How sad that America can't be asked to do anything for equality apparently. I do wonder what that says about how we see ourselves. And, remember, on this issue, we lag behind. We're not leaders. Is that what happens when we're not leaders, we can no longer appeal to people to do the right thing? We have to be selfish and say, "It's hurting this or that?" That's a lousy argument in reality. Now we need the best military? Now? I would assume anyone serving in the eighties or seventies would assume that they needed the best military. I appreciate that Patrick Murphy is speaking of the topic (all that's taking place is speaking -- if the House wanted to vote on this, they already would have, we'll come back to that point) but I didn't "serve with gays and lesbians in the military." I am friends with gays and lesbians and I have family members who are gays and lesbians. It's not an issue that's going to come up every few years at some military reunion for me, it's a regular part of the fabric of human life. And I'm very aware that there is a growing vocal disgust within the gay community over the way this is being presented. Fair is fair, right is right. This is the United States of America and we are all supposed to be equal. Anytime that argument isn't made -- with or without 'oh the money it costs us!', it is heard by an increasingly vocal segment of the LGBT community as, "Your life is too 'icky' for us to defend on the grounds of fairness." That's offensive. And it's all the more so when it comes from a would-be gay-leader assoicated with the campign who an actual gay rights leader refers to as "The self-loathing Bette Midler freak -- who is all for that approach -- and he apparently enjoys seeing himself as 'icky' when getting 'freaky' -- but Gay Pride long ago made self-loathing unfashionable." If you want to get serious, get serious. Playing the economy card isn't getting serious. Playing the scare people with fear ("National security!") isn't getting serious. Now you can include those reasons as part of a tapestry of reasons why the policy needs to be repealed; however, if you're not also making the fairness argument, you're being insulting -- and it doesn't matter if you're straight or gay, you are being insulting to the LGBT community. The Voices org plans to go on tour. They better their act together before they do or plan to play to just straight audiences because I knew about Murphy's appearance Monday and just intended to ignore them (I also thought -- on the same broadcast -- Julian E. Barnes made an ass out of himself -- along with demonstrating he doesn't actually know the law). But I live in the Bay Area and we don't play the Plessy v. Ferguson game with each other out there. Translation, very vocal leaders from that area are complaining and raised the issue. I listened, their complaints and valid and we will cover it.
And here's the big point. Fairness needs to be argued because it is a value. An actual value. One enshrined in the Constitution of the United States. Long after Don't Ask, Don't Tell is gone, the LGBT community and other communities will still need the fairness argument for equality. So no one -- straight, gay, bi, non-sexual, what have you -- benefits when the fairness argument is tossed aside. Is it worth it, though, in the short term, when the US could see the hideous Don't Ask, Don't Tell repealed. Don't Ask, Don't Tell isn't getting repealed anytime soon.
Congress doesn't give a damn about changing this policy. This is a song-and-dance to take the heat of Barack. That's the reality. I will assume Patrick is serious about this issue. Ellen Tauscher was. But the White House doesn't want this. (And I know that from friends at the White House which is another reason we're covering this topic so strongly today.) And it's not happening short of intense pressure (the October rally in DC could apply tremendous pressure). The myth is that Barry O wants to repeal it. And that he's tasked Congress with getting a bill on his desk so he can repeal Don't Ask, Don't Tell. The reality is that House and Senate leadership (Democratic control of both houses) would be putting it to a vote immediately if that's what Barack really wanted. He doesn't want it and the leadership is attempting to bury it. The bill's written, it's called the Military Readiness Enahncement Act of 2009. Ellen Tauscher introduced it March 3, 2009. It's July 15th. There has been no vote despite the fact that there are 161 sponsors. Now that's the House. In the Senate? Allegedly the issue will be steered by Ted Kennedy. Other than Senator Roland Burris, no one in the Senate has spoken publicly in support of changing it in the last few weeks when it's been a major topic in the press. As for Kennedy leading on it? He has other issues including his own health and promoting his upcoming book. So you have a bill that, if the House leadership was serious, they'd be voting on tomorrow. They're not. The White House doesn't want it and leadership in the House is blocking a vote. (In the Senate there is no action at all.) So, sorry, we're not gong to be silent when the LGBT community is being treated as a concern only out of fear and not out of fairness. That's a short sighted argument and it really is insulting. It wouldn't cut for Civil Rights, it wouldn't cut it for universal suffrage, it wouldn't cut it to end slavery. But someone thinks it's okay to make it the sole argument for ending Don't Ask, Don't Tell? There's an LGBT history moment the country should run from: In 2010, due to national security fears, Don't Ask, Don't Tell was finally repealed. Said Republican Senator Jeff Sessions, "I don't have to like them, I don't have to respect them and you better believe I won't let them marry! But I care about national security so even these 'pervs' get my support." (Sessions didn't say that but it's not very far from what he would say if it passed.)
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