Bush/McCain: The Arlington Plan

30Vets On April 9, Spc. Jon Town was featured on the cover of The Nation, in an article that told how he was wounded in Iraq, won a Purple Heart and was then denied all disability and medical benefits. Town’s doctor had concluded that his headaches and hearing loss were not caused by the 107-millimeter rocket that knocked him unconscious but by a psychological condition, “personality disorder,” a pre-existing illness for which one cannot collect disability pay or receive medical care.

Soon Town became a national figure, the human face of the 22,500 soldiers discharged with personality disorder in the past six years. His story was picked up by the Army Times, Washington Post Radio and ABC News’s Bob Woodruff. It was dramatized in a May episode of NBC’s Law & Order. And rock star Dave Matthews began discussing Town’s plight at every stop in his spring concert series.

Further investigation by The Nation has uncovered more than a dozen cases like Town’s from bases across the country. All of the soldiers interviewed passed the rigorous health screening given recruits before being accepted into the Army. All were deemed physically and psychologically fit in a second screening as well, before being deployed to Iraq, and served honorably there in combat. None of the soldiers interviewed during this eleven-month investigation had a documented history of psychological problems.

Yet after they returned from Iraq wounded and sought treatment, each was diagnosed with a pre-existing personality disorder, then denied benefits. As in Town’s case, Army doctors determined that the soldiers’ ailments were pre-existing without interviewing friends, family or fellow soldiers who knew them before they were wounded in combat.

In this article you will hear from Army doctors who say wounded soldiers are routinely misdiagnosed. One says he was pressured by superiors to diagnose personality disorder in cases where soldiers were physically wounded or suffering from posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

Maj. Gen. Gale Pollock, acting surgeon general of the Army, was briefed on the problems with the Army’s personality disorder discharges. Instead of correcting cases like Town’s, she buried them. The surgeon general released a series of memos filled with fabrications. Pollock then informed wounded soldiers that their cases had been thoroughly reviewed by an independent panel of health experts when in fact no such review was conducted.

“This is not the way the government ought to work. It’s not the way they should be responding to veterans,” says Representative Bob Filner, chair of the House Committee on Veterans’ Affairs. He first heard Town’s story in April and began working soon afterward to bring the soldier to Washington. There Town would get his chance to tell Congress everything: about his diagnosis, his discharge and the work of Surgeon General Pollock… [emphasis added]

Inserted from <The Nation>

Amazing Places 1071475. This is just the introduction to a major five page article, and I urge you strongly to click through and read the rest. I have watched with growing frustration as Democrats in Congress have put forward measure after measure to improve the lot of our troops and veterans only to see them either vetoed by the ChickenHawk-in-Chief or fall to GOP filibusters, in which the GOP could always count on John McHypocrite to vote against our nation’s troops and vets.

GW Bush, McConJob, and the GOP have a formula for supporting our troops and vets. I call it The Arlington Plan. If that isn’t clear, see the graphic.

All articles cross-posted from Politics Plus

Burma: Rice Matters More Than Rights

30yadana In a report to be released today, a human rights group says that Burmese soldiers guarding a Chevron Corp. pipeline have killed nearby villagers while ordering others to serve as forced labor.

Drawn from interviews with villagers as well as Burmese refugees in Thailand, the report by EarthRights International accuses the Burmese military of terrorizing people who live near the Yadana pipeline. A spokesman for San Ramon’s Chevron called the report’s accusations baseless.

Chevron co-owns the pipeline, along with French oil giant Total and a Burmese company. Total runs the project, while the other companies act mainly as investors. EarthRights does not accuse Chevron or its partners of committing any human rights abuses themselves.

Instead, the EarthRights report calls on the companies to shut down the pipeline as a way of placing pressure on Burma’s military rulers, whose deadly crackdown on pro-democracy activists last year provoked international condemnation.

“No one’s saying Chevron could single-handedly bring human rights and democracy to Burma,” said Marco Simons, EarthRights’ legal director and an author of the report. “But if they’re employing security forces that are committing abuses, they have a moral responsibility to do everything in their power to stop those abuses.”

The report argues that the Yadana project has become the single largest source of income for the Burmese government, bringing in an estimated $969 million each year and undercutting international sanctions designed to isolate the regime.

Chevron came under intense pressure from human rights activists and politicians to pull out of Burma after last year’s crackdown.

A Chevron spokesman said Monday that the company had not received the new report and could not comment on most of its accusations… [emphasis added]

Inserted from <San Francisco Chronicle>

Why has there been no more than lip service from the US over this issue?  The Reich would answer that there are sanctions against Burma in place, and fail to mention the one exception.  I’ve discussed this before on October 4, and the reason remains unchanged.  Athough Yadana provides majority of the junta’s revenue, and shutting it down could bankrupt the Burmese government, Chevron remains the exception to the sanctions.  Why?  Rice matters more than rights, and we’re not talking about food.

30chevronrice Condoleezza Rice was a Chevron Director from 1991 until January 15, 2001 when she was transferred by President George Bush Jr. to National Security Adviser. Previously she was Senior Director, Soviet Affairs, National Security Council, and Special Assistant to President George Bush Sr. from 1989 to 1991.

Another Chevron Corporation giant in the Bush administration is Vice President Dick Cheney. Vice President Cheney was Chairman and Chief Executive of Dallas based Halliburton Corporation, the world’s largest oil field services company with multi-billion dollar contracts with oil corporations including Chevron. Lawrence Eagleburger, a seasoned Bush counselor who held top State Department posts under George Bush Sr., is a director of Halliburton Corporation… [emphasis added]

Inserted from <Aztlan.net>

For Bush, McConJob and the GOP, killing innocent villagers and using them as slave labor is fine, ac long as CondiCorp continues to earn record profit.  McConJob has proposed more tax cuts for corporations like this.

Keith on Bushonomics

Yesterday morning Potomac Pinocchio gave a news conference in which he blamed all the nation’s ills on the Democrats in Congress.  Last night on Countdown, Keith Olbermann served fried ChickenHawk.

Obama Repudiates Ex-pastor

30wright Senator Barack Obama, saying that he’d had enough, forcefully repudiated his former pastor yesterday and declared that racially charged remarks made by the Rev. Jeremiah A. Wright Jr. contradict “all that I stand for.”

Obama said he had tried to give Wright “the benefit of the doubt,” but decided to disavow Wright after the minister’s nationally televised appearance on Monday reignited a lingering controversy on the eve of two crucial Democratic presidential primaries.

The Illinois senator said Wright’s appearance, including his dismissal of Obama’s attempts to defuse the controversy as political posturing, “was a show of disrespect to me” and “an insult to what we’ve been trying to do in this campaign.”

Wright, he added, is no longer “the man I met 20 years ago.”

When I say I found his comments appalling, I mean it . . . Anybody who has worked with me, who knows my life, who read my books, who has seen what this campaign is about will understand it is completely opposed to what I stand for and where I want to take this country,” Obama said at a news conference in Winston-Salem, N.C.

The condemnation was a dramatic shift for Obama, who had tried to navigate a personal and political minefield: maintaining a relationship with the minister who brought him to Christianity, performed his wedding, and baptized his two daughters, while distancing himself from Wright’s most incendiary sermons and trying to quell a controversy that threatened to undermine Obama’s campaign’s focus on racial unity.

Answering questions submitted by reporters on Monday, Wright praised Nation of Islam leader Louis Farrakhan as “one of the most important voices in the 20th and 21st century,” and said it’s possible that the US government created the AIDS virus and introduced it into the black community. He also said he’s become a victim of “unfair accusations taken from soundbites” that have developed into an “attack on the black church launched by people who know nothing about the African-American religious tradition.”

William Galston of the Brookings Institution, a nonpartisan Washington think tank, said Obama had to disavow Wright, the former pastor of Trinity United Church of Christ, but added that the controversy has already taken a toll on Obama’s campaign. Galston said the most recent polling data show that Obama’s substantial lead over Hillary Clinton, his Democratic rival, is narrowing in North Carolina and that Clinton is gaining ground in a neck-and-neck race in Indiana.

“I would be surprised if [Obama’s statements] made it go away. It’s certainly helpful,” he said. “But I think that Senator Obama will be lucky if this dies down before people are voting in the primaries” Tuesday… [emphasis added]

Inserted from <Boston Globe>

I have to agree.  More than any other single factor, media dwelling on Wright’s campaign for self-aggrandizement is responsible for stalling Obama’s campaign in recent weeks.

‘No Acquittals’ at Gitmo

29bush_hitler The former chief prosecutor here took the witness stand on Monday on behalf of a detainee and testified that top Pentagon officials had pressured him in deciding which cases to prosecute and what evidence to use.

The prosecutor, Col. Morris D. Davis of the Air Force, testified that Pentagon officials had interfered with his work for political reasons and told him that charges against well-known detainees “could have real strategic political value” and that there could be no acquittals.

His testimony completed one of the more unusual transformations in the contentious history of Guantánamo. Colonel Davis, who is on active duty as a senior Air Force official and was one of the Pentagon’s most vocal advocates of the Guantánamo military commissions, has become one of the most visible critics of the system.

Testifying about his assertions for the first time, Colonel Davis said a senior Pentagon official who oversaw the military commissions, Brig. Gen. Thomas W. Hartmann of the Air Force Reserve, reversed a decision he had made and insisted that prosecutors proceed with evidence derived through waterboarding of detainees and other aggressive interrogation methods that critics call torture.

Called to the stand by a Navy defense lawyer and testifying before a military judge, Colonel Davis said General Hartmann directed him last year to push war crimes cases here quickly. He said the general was trying to give the system legitimacy before a new president took office. He testified that General Hartmann referred to the long difficulties the Pentagon had had in operating the military commissions and said, “If we don’t get some cases going before the election, this thing’s going to implode.”

Spokesmen for the Pentagon and General Hartmann declined to comment on Monday, saying that the questioning was continuing before the military judge…

Inserted from <NY Times>

I first posted about Col. Davis on February 21. The GOP Reich likes to compare these tribunals with the Nuremberg trials, but in Nuremberg we did not extract testimony under torture and we did not decide the verdicts before the trials took place. Some might argue that some of these terrorists do not deserve a fair trial. Whether or not this is true, what they do or do not deserve is not relevant. This is not about who that are. It’s about who we are. At Nuremberg, we tried and convicted German judges for running exactly the same kinds of courts that Bush and the GOP are running here. If we ignore our own standards of justice to combat terrorism, then the war on terror is already over and the terrorists have won.

All articles cross-posted from Politics Plus

McCain Flip-Flops

Keith Olbermann and Rachael Maddow take McConJob apart on several key issues:

SCOTUS Goose Steps on Voter ID

29voterid Finally, the country will be rescued from its long nightmare struggle with voter fraud! And if certain voters find it harder to get their ballot cast, then so be it.

From the AP:

The Supreme Court has ruled that states can require voters to produce photo identification without violating their constitutional rights. The decision validates Republican-inspired voter ID laws.

The court vote 6-3 to uphold Indiana’s strict photo ID requirement. Democrats and civil rights groups say the law would deter poor, older and minority voters from casting ballots.

As those who have followed this issue will remember, this is not a surprise. As Jeffrey Toobin put it early this year:

As a general matter, in recent years the Court has been reluctant to find what is charged in this case: a violation of the constitutional guarantee of equal protection of the laws. (The notable exception, to belabor the issue, was for a plaintiff named George W. Bush.) In the end, though, it will not be the judiciary that rescues democracy; whatever the obstacles, the problems with the ballot box must be solved at the ballot box.

A little more detail in an update from the AP:

The law “is amply justified by the valid interest in protecting ‘the integrity and reliability of the electoral process,'” Justice John Paul Stevens said in an opinion that was joined by Chief Justice John Roberts and Anthony Kennedy.

Justices Samuel Alito, Antonin Scalia and Clarence Thomas also agreed with the outcome, but wrote separately.

Justices Stephen Breyer, Ruth Bader Ginsburg and David Souter dissented….

“We cannot conclude that the statute imposes ‘excessively burdensome requirements’ on any class of voters,” Stevens said.

Stevens’ opinion suggests that the outcome could be different in a state where voters could provide evidence that their rights had been impaired.

But in dissent, Souter said Indiana’s voter ID law “threatens to impose nontrivial burdens on the voting rights of tens of thousands of the state’s citizens.”

… [emphasis added]

Inserted from <TPM>

It election fraud, not counting the GOP fraud of rigged voting machines, were a problem in this country, this statute would make sense, but there has been no evidence that it is.  To the contrary, lack of voter participation is an issue.  Since the GOP would not invent a solution for which there is no problem, the problem must be a different one and it is.  Poor, minority and disabled voters vote overwhelming for Democrats, and the GOP wants to disenfranchise as many as possible.  This is a huge step backwards for voting rights.  For disabled people and people without transportation to either report in person to a DMV before voting or to their county election HQ within days after casting a provisional ballot is an extreme hardship.

McCain has promised to appoint Justices like Roberts, Alito, Scalia and Thomas.  Can our nation survive another justice of their ilk?