"Fund the Wounded, Not the War" (Jess Hagopian, CounterPunch):
Kevin Lucey is the father of 23-year-old Lance Cpl. Jeffrey Lucey, who committed suicide in his parents' Massachusetts basement less than a year after returning home from fighting during the invasion of Iraq in 2003. Kevin and his wife announced on Thursday, July 26 that they are suing the U.S. government for negligence, charging their son hanged himself after the government ignored his blatant signs of PTSD and depression--nightmares, daily vomiting, heavy drinking and violent verbal outbursts.
Sadly, the neglect of Jeffrey Lucey is not a rare tragedy, but a common outrage when America is at war.
In the first quarter of 2006 alone, the Department of Veterans Affairs "treated 20,638 Iraq veterans for post-traumatic stress disorder, and they have a backlog of 400,000 cases," according to the California Nurses Association. "A returning soldier has to wait an average of 165 days for a VA decision on initial disability benefits, and an appeal can take up to three years."
Some of the ongoing abuse of returning veterans finally surfaced in American consciousness amid the Washington Post's revelations of the shoddy care and facilities at the Walter Reed VA Hospital. The maze of bureaucracy that kept veterans from the care they needed and Building 18's now infamous living conditions -moldy, cracked walls, and infestations of roaches and mice-provided the ambience for wounded soldiers returning from Iraq who were told they were heroes by the politicians.
I'm opening with that for several reasons. 1) This will be a light post. 2) It's stronger than anything I'm going to write. 3) C.I. requested through Mike that I note it. There were huge problems with the snapshot today. C.I. usually dictates those but do troubles various people were having online, C.I. ended up grabbing the laptop at the last minute and finishing it right befre it was time for them (C.I. and Kat) to catch the plane home. Mike said C.I. is thinking about -- after the long flight -- getting back on and updating the snapshot, but there's no reason for that. We all pick up the slack for each other (and today's snapshot isn't "slacking").
Jesse Hagopian is with Troops Home Now and is correct that the alleged 'support' is just a slogan and nothing that's followed up on. (In any war I've ever seen. Americans come home and have to fight for the promised benefits. That's actually a historical reality in this country. I'm not able to comment about elsewhere. But in this country, a lot of hot air gets tossed around but nothing ever gets done.)
Thank you to Sunny both for posting what I'd saved to draft on Wednesday and adding to it last night in "Elaine's post with a bit from me (Sunny)." She saw an e-mail today asking how she did links if she couldn't? She asked me to explain that. In the post, she explains that C.I. copies and pastes the Iraq snapshot into an e-mail and puts the link in the title so you just have to copy and paste it, the link's already there. But she linked to some sites, didn't she?
Yes, but she didn't create those links. Watch.
The Common Ills
Third Estate Sunday Review
Sex and Politics and Screeds and Attitude
Thomas Friedman Is a Great Man
Kat's Korner (of The Common Ills)
Mikey Likes It!
Cedric's Big Mix
Seth in the City
The Daily Jot
Those are links to all the community sites. Did I just go in and add links? No, I went to the links that are displayed on the right of this page, clicked on the left with my mouse, highlighted them, then right clicked and was given the copy option. I then came over to this screen and clicked with the right and selected copy. You can do that on all the sites except Kat's and C.I.'s. They have an older blogger/blogspot template. That's also why the titles of their entries are not listed while at the other sites, they are. Now she could have gone to Wally or Cedric's site and copy and pasted a link to an entry or post (from any site, they link to all entries and post) and grabbed it that way but she didn't remember that until this morning.
By doing that right now, I can copy their "Recommended" from their last joint-post:
"Iraq snapshot""Oh look, it's universal . . . for some men""Disciples of Christ say no to illegal war""Dear Drama Queen""The quiz""THIS JUST IN! TAKE THE QUIZ!"
Now if I take the time, I can space those out. Or I can just select one to copy and paste. "Dear Drama Queen" is the one she wanted. We try to keep our titles brief so that Wally and Cedric can go to our sites, grab the title from the side and not have to type in (or copy and paste the title) and then have to add in a link. As I've noted before, they grab the titles for C.I.'s entries from the mirror site. Kat can go on long or brief (in her title) because her titles do not display as links at her site.
I hope that explains it. Sunny read that e-mail to me today and asked, "Are they calling me a liar?" I hope not. But as she pointed out, what was the point of her mentioning she loved an entry by C.I. and that I'd put the link in tomorrow if she could have actually done it herself? There would be no point.
To back her up on something, she runs the office at work. That's what she's paid for. She does a brilliant job of that. She does it so well that she has plenty of down time. She can read during that, she can listen to music or watch something online (or bring in her own TV, the woman before her did that). She can talk on the phone, whatever she wants. She's got it down so well that she probably has at least four hours of time where she's mainly trying to keep from being bored each work day. She enjoys reading the e-mails here and does that on her own. I'm not paying her for it.
So if someone gets an e-mail from her (and most do), you should be happy that she wrote you because it's not part of her job description or an assigned task. When I finally started this site, after filling in for Rebecca, she wanted to read the e-mails the first day after it was up with a real post.
By the same token, if she makes the decision not to reply to you, that's her decision. If she doesn't think you need a reply then I will probably agree with her. So the man who's had a problem that he hasn't received a reply, she's not going to waste her own time by arguing with you about your opinion. I'm not going to waste my time either. If you're a community member, you may only get a one line reply because that's all she had to say or that's all she had time to say. (No members have ever complained about the responses they've received. I checked with her there and was prepared to gripe here tonight if any had.) But she's not required to read the e-mails and she's certainly not required to reply to every right-winger or centrist who has a beef.
I said this would be a light post. It has been. It's been a long week with catching up after two weeks off. Hope everyone has a wonderful, or at least restful, weekend.
"Iraq snapshot" (The Common Ills):
Friday, July 27, 2007. Chaos and violence continue, the US military announces another death, Cindy Sheehan debates a moron, Operation Happy Talk continues.
Starting with war resisters. From September 2nd through September 26th, Agustin Aguayo was absent without leave. Aguayo self-checked out when facing a second deployment to Iraq and while his case was moving through the civilian courts. Aguayo was denied CO status by a military that doesn't know their own regulations. John A. Rogowsky Jr. is another, among many others, who have been wrongly denied CO status. From "Selective Service System: Fast Facts:" "Beliefs which qualify a registrant for CO status may be religious in nature, but don't have to be." Despite that basic reality, Aguayo, Rogowsky and others have been told that they're not religious enough, that their religion is not recognized, when religion really is NOT required for CO status. In Aguayo's case, the military refused to recognize that time in Iraq deepened Aguayo's faith (already present when he enlisted).
Speaking with Don Bustany on KPFK's Middle East in Focus Wednesday, Aguayo shared his story.and noted that when he arrived in Iraq in February of 2004, the medics were gathered for a speech that was in conflict in with the printed training material. They were told that they were medics and they were combat troops and that, "'You medics,' speaking to us, 'has to make it clear, has to make it clear in the minds of your infantry man that they must finish their job because if they don't then there will be more work for you'." As Aguayo looked around he saw acceptance and an eagerness to get back to the routine but "I could not accept that I was being told those things."
He also spoke of the eagerness to blame Iraqis for any problems as opposed to questioning the illegal war or the Bully Boy who sent them there. Aguayo began to realize, "I was a particiant, a supporter, of all the missions that took place." Today Aguayo is sharing his story publicly. Mialka Bonadonna (LAist) reports he will be speaking tonight (Friday) in Los Angeles, 7:00 pm at 3303 Wilshire Blvd., 2nd floor.
There is a growing movement of resistance within the US military which includes Robert Weiss, Phil McDowell, Steve Yoczik, Ross Spears, Jared Hood and James Burmeister, Eli Israel, Joshua Key, Ehren Watada, Terri Johnson, Luke Kamunen, Leif Kamunen, Leo Kamunen, Camilo Mejia, Kimberly Rivera, Dean Walcott, Linjamin Mull, Agustin Aguayo, Justin Colby, Marc Train, Robert Zabala, Darrell Anderson, Kyle Snyder, Corey Glass, Jeremy Hinzman, Kevin Lee, Joshua Key, Mark Wilkerson, Patrick Hart, Ricky Clousing, Ivan Brobeck, Aidan Delgado, Pablo Paredes, Carl Webb, Jeremy Hinzman, Stephen Funk, Clifton Hicks, David Sanders, Dan Felushko, Brandon Hughey, Clifford Cornell, Joshua Despain, Joshua Casteel, Katherine Jashinski, Chris Teske, Matt Lowell, Jimmy Massey, Chris Capps, Tim Richard, Hart Viges, Michael Blake, Christopher Mogwai, Christian Care, Kyle Huwer, Vincent La Volpa, DeShawn Reed and Kevin Benderman. In total, forty-one US war resisters in Canada have applied for asylum.
Information on war resistance within the military can be found at The Objector, The G.I. Rights Hotline, Iraq Veterans Against the War and the War Resisters Support Campaign. Courage to Resist offers information on all public war resisters. Tom Joad maintains a list of known war resisters.
From reality to Operation Happy Talk. The push-back is on and Lt. Gen. Raymond T. Odierno has enlisted. Ned Parker (Los Angeles Times) writes of the press briefing Odierno gave yesterday where he issued the talking points that US military deaths were falling. Parker rightly notes that seven deaths were announced after the press briefing and the one of the deaths announced on Thursday dated back to Sunday. The US military was delaying announcing deaths. Reality is that in terms of what has been annouced, the deaths were 67 on Thursday and that July is not yet over but July 2007 is already the deadliest July for US service members since the start of the illegal war. July 2006: 43 US service members were killed in Iraq. In July 2005 and July 2004, 54 US service members were killed in Iraq. In July 2003, 48 US service members were killed in Iraq.
Last week, Odierno enlisted in the push-back in a vareity of ways at a press briefing with reporters at the US Pentagon via video-link. In terms of downgrading expectations for the September report to the US Congress by the military, he declared that the report that was needed would come in November and clarified, "What I was saying is -- again, my remarks were, in 45 days I will have a better idea if the trends are continuing, and that's September. Obviously, we have an assessment we will conduct in September that will provide -- that General Petraeus and Ambassador Crocker will provide. I was not looking at extending that time frame when they have to report back. What I imagine we'll have to do is do assessments that follow that initial assessment in September, and that's -- I'm assuming we'll continue to do assessments while we're here." Yesterday, Odierno stressed "trends" as well but forgot to include 7 deaths he should have known about in his remarks.
In addition, at the same press briefing, he attempted to yet again sell the non-proven link between resistance fighters in Iraq and the Iranian government. When pressed by reporters for evidence, Odierno's confident remarks of such a link were replaced with his statements that, "We don't see any evidence -- significant evidence". And a third way he enlisted was in calling into question the right of an open debate in a free society when he took to suggesting that discussions in the media and in the US Congress about US forces withdrawing from Iraq, was 'emboldening' al Qaeda. Again, when pressed, Odierno had to back off from his original remarks and admit he had "no specific intelligence" on any such emboldening.
Operation Happy Talk is not confined to the US military brass and the US administration. Andrew Grice (Independent of London) reports that the UK Air Chief Marshal Jock Stirrup (I did not make that name up) has declared, "We are very close to being able to hand over Basra in my judgement. Just when we will reach that point is at the moment uncertain but I am fairly confident it'll be in the second half of the year." Basra is one base, the Basra Palace (and it's also the last of four provinces the British military currently controls -- the other three were already turned over) Grice interprets Jock Stirrup's remarks to mean control of Basra could be handed off before the year's end; however, it could come much sooner. After all, British troops, the Soldiers of the Queen's Royal Hussars, proved they could hustle when they pulled out of the Maysan province with less than 24 hours notice after their base their repeatedly was attacked back in August. As Haidar Hani (AP) reported then that following the British hitting the road in 'stripped down mode': "Looters ravaged a former British base Friday . . . taking everything from doors and window frames to corrugated roofing and metal pipes". Iraqi authorites noted then that the British had only given them 24 hours notice that the departure was coming. As with that base, the Basra Palace has been under rocket and mortar attacks repeatedly. In addition, IRIN reports that approximately "150 doctors in Basra, Iraq's second largest city about 600km south of Baghdad, began a three-day strike on 23 July, demanding the government protect them and their families." This was to call attention to the lack of security and this comes as over "618 medical employees" have been killed since the start of the illegal war.
Turning to realities that US administration prefers we don't know. Noam N. Levey and Alexandra Zavis (Los Angeles Times) report that the White House "has stopped reporting to Congress a key quality-of-life indicator in Baghdad: how long the power stays on." This is an agreed upon 'benchmark' by the US administration and Congress -- and one even Iraqis could agree to even though they were consulted when it was time to draw on benchmarks. When you can't meet the benchmark, this administration stops reporting it.
This approach is an affront to democracy and one of many the current administration has repeatedly shown not only to people in the US but to people around the world. Today, Amy Goodman and Juan Gonzalez (Democracy Now!) hosted a debate on the issue of impeachment. All sides were represented, with Cindy Sheehan representing the pro-impeachment and Dan Gerstein representing the lunatic fringe. Gerstein is a Democratic Party Hack and not even a good one. His full credentials were not listed on the program and that's probably due to the fact that if he'd had to sit through even a partial litany of his many losses, he would have walked off on air.
Gerstein doesn't want impeachment. He doesn't think anything that's been done rises to the level of impeachment. He thinks the way to 'fix' is to vote Democrats into power in 2008 (he might want to check out his consulting p.r. faxes because I'm seeing something about him being in favor of Democrats "all things being equal"). To impeach the Bully Boy and/or Cheney would be a distraction that would harm the Democrats chances to regain the White House in 2008.
Gerstein's been more wrong than right when gazing into his crystal ball and that may say it all but for those who've forgotten his nasty snit-fits when his boy Joe Lieberman lost the primary to Ned Lamont, try google-ing.
The reality, as Cindy Sheehan pointed out, is that impeachment hasn't been a problem in terms of the White House. Gerstein is wrong, Sheehan is right. Gerstein tried to use the 1998 Congressional election (not a White House election) as an example. After the 2002 Congressional election demonstrated that no patterns were holding, no tea leafs could be read, Gerstein might try sticking to reality and leaving his fantasy land where he knows the outcome. (If he truly did, he might be a player and not a Lieberman lackey.)
From the broadcast:
CINDY SHEEHAN: Well, also in Article II, yeah, Clause 4, it says for treason and bribery and other high crimes and misdemeanors. I believe that -- and there's, you know, legal proof out there that when he commuted Scooter Libby's sentence, he committed treason, because Scooter Libby was convicted of obstructing justice in the cover-up of the Bush administration outing Valerie Plame. And I believe that the American people will be behind this. The Democrats aren't trying to end the war. They just gave George Bush $120 billion more to wage it. And he has said the troops aren't coming home while he's president. So I think we need to look at it as human-based and not political. John Conyers told me in a meeting previously to the one we had on Monday that winning the presidency in '08 was more important to him than ending the war in Iraq. When are our leaders going to -- I guarantee there's 150,000 mothers in this country, who it's more important to them to end the war in Iraq and get their children home safely than who's president in '08. And I think, historically, when this impeachment has been tried, like I said before, the party who tried it, even though it hasn't been successful, has -- it has galvanized the base of that party to say, "Wow, our leaders are courageous. Our leaders have integrity. Our leaders are leading us from a moral base, not from political expediency."
It was hilarious to see the Sterile Gerstein LIE and we'll use the word even though he will take offense but that is reality. A liar, for instance, is someone who attacks Cindy Sheehan as an attention hog (or whatever the term he used) only a short time ago but pretends to have the upmost respect for her during the debate today. The Peace Mom cleaned his clock.
In today's violence, CNN reports that 17 Iraqis -- count includes 2 women -- were killed by the US military and the Iraqi military today in Karbala with hospital officials reporting at least twenty-five wounded ("including women and children") had been brought to the hospital. To no one's surprise the US military is claiming "Not true!" The US military asserts, in the same press release -- keep that in mind, that "No Iraqi civilians were present in the area while the strike was performed" -- the strike involved "aeiral fires" -- and that this was "a raid in a neighborhood in Karbala." One of those, no doubt, ghost town neighborhoods in Karbala? By their own admission, the raid took place in a neighborhood. The raid took place during the sleeping hours. The raid involved air strikes as well as shooting on the ground. And there is the matter of the bodies of the dead and the wounded.
Mohammed Al Dulaimy (McClatchy Newspapers) reports a man was killed in a Baghdad bombing when the car he was driving was stopped by assailants who put "explosives into his car" and then attempted to use the man and his car in an attack on a police check point (two police officers were wounded), a Baghdad mortar attack that left four wounded, two people wounded when "U.S. troops bombed Al Husseiniya district" in Baghdad, an Al Muqdadiyah roadside bombing claimed 1 life with five others wounded, a Kirkuk rocket attack that claimed 2 lives, and a Karbala roadside bombing targeting Brig. Gen. Raed Shakir Hamed that left 3 of his bodyguards killed while he survived. Reuters notes a Mahmudiya mortar attack that claimed the life of 1 woman and left a child and an adult wounded, that a Samarra roadside bombing that claimed the lives of 7 police officers so . . .Shootings?
Reuters notes the Samarra police decided to open fire and 3 innocent civilians were killed (open fire after the bombing). Mohammed Al Dulaimy (McClatchy Newspapers) reports Saidiyah and Adeeb Abdul Salam were shot dead in a Baghdad home invasion, a person shot dead in Buhruz and attorney Hussam Al Nahi was shot dead in Basra. Reuters notes an Iraqi soldier shot dead in Kirkuk.Corpses?Mohammed Al Dulaimy (McClatchy Newspapers) reports 7 corpses discovered in Baghdad, two corpses delivered to Al Muqdadiyah hospital, 1 corpse discovered in Baquba. KUNA reports the corpses of five women were discovered in Mosul today and that the women had been kidnapped yesterday while returning from work.
Today, the US military announced: "One Task Force Lightning Soldier died as a result of injuries sustained from an explosion near his vehicle while conducting operations in Diyala province, Thursday." The death brings ICCC's current total to 3646 US service members killed in Iraq since the start of the illegal war with 67 killed for the month thus far.
the los angeles times