Saturday, May 10, 2008

Barack loses another adviser

"HUBdate: Strongest at the Top of the Ticket" (Howard Wolfson,
Strongest at the Top of the Ticket: Several members of Congress released a letter today to other Democrats touting their support for Hillary, saying she is the strongest candidate to have at the top of the ticket in the fall: "[W]e are convinced that Hillary Clinton has the vision, skills and commitment to make the changes our country needs. As Democrats who have run and won in competitive Congressional districts and battleground states, we believe that Hillary is best positioned to successfully lead the Democratic ticket in districts and states like ours around the country."
Read the letter.
Automatic Delegate Watch: Hillary received the endorsement of automatic delegate and Congressman Chris Carney (D-PA). Read more.
Honoring the Votes of Millions of People: In a letter written to Sen. Obama yesterday, Hillary urges him to "honor the votes of the millions of people who went to the polls in Florida and Michigan...One of the foremost principles of our party is that citizens be allowed to vote and that those votes be counted."
Read the letter.
Previewing Today: "Hillary Clinton catches up with former Make-A-Wish winner Oregonian, still a big fan, now works for the former first lady's campaign." Read more.
WV Endorsement Watch: "Former West Virginia Governor Hulett Smith announced his endorsement of Hillary ...citing the Senator’s commitment to fiscal responsibility, veterans, and the economy." Read more.
"Hillary Clinton Would be the Stronger Candidate" The Charleston Daily Mail endorsed Hillary yesterday, saying: "She is by far the more experienced of the Democratic candidates, and the one who has had to learn the most about West Virginia." Read more.
West Virginia is a Test: At a rally in Charleston, WV yesterday, Hillary said: "I'm running to be president of all 50 states...I think we ought to keep this going so the people of West Virginia's voices are heard...West Virginia is a test...It's a test for me and a test for Sen. Obama."
Read more.
South Dakota "Appearance Thrills Supporters" One South Dakota supporter at Hillary's Sioux Falls rally yesterday said: "'It feels good to be this close to hopefully the next president." Read more.
Support for the Farm Bill: Hillary released the following statement today: "Unfortunately, the Bush Administration is signaling that the President will veto the [farm] bill. Saying no to the farm bill would be saying no to rural America. I call on President Bush to get out of the way. When Congress sends President Bush the farm bill, he needs to sign it so we can start taking care of rural America." Read more.

Who is still in the race? The candidate the Democratic Party needs to win, Hillary. The candidate who has proven over and over that she will fight for the country. There really isn't anyone like her, not just still in the race, but anyone like her period. Think about all the male candidates that were in the race, think about all the passes they gave Barack. Only Hillary stood up and fought.

Chris Dodd? Does anyone even remember him being on stage? Bill Richardson? Refusing to call out anything and acting like the baby of the family whining. Joe Biden has an excuse (and he did hurt sometimes). He got trashed early on. Did all the men refuse to stand up because they feared getting trashed the way Biden did? (Ava and C.I. raised that point tonight, to give them credit.) A bunch of dancing nancys on stage, afraid to stake their claim, afraid to make their case. Only Hillary stood up. She is a fighter and anyone who ever doubted that needs to look at what's going on right now. She's still fighting.

They want to force her out of the race. She's not dropped out. She's not taken their orders. As someone who saw Kerry get taken aside the morning after the election, as someone who knew there were planes waiting to take him and John Edwards to Ohio, as someone who knew the election was stolen, I don't for a moment doubt that with Hillary as the nominee, there's no way the Republicans could steal another election. She wouldn't crumble. She wouldn't listen to the "It's just an election and if we play nice, in four years, it will be our turn." John Kerry did. The same John Kerry who made part of his campaign about making every vote count. All it took was thirty minutes (actually less) with the Democratic Party big-wigs alone in a room and the man who said "We're going to Ohio!" came out with his tail between his legs.

You better believe that after two stolen elections, the GOP will try to steal this one as well. If Barack's the nominee, it won't be too hard. He's a bad candidate. But if it's Hillary, who can challenge John McCain, there won't be any behind closed doors deal where she's forced to stop fighting, where she's told it's "for the good of the country" that we suffer through four years of Republican rule.

She's a fighter and she will fight for the country.

I lost all respect for John Kerry that morning. All it took was a few minutes with the big wigs and he crumpled, he buckled. John Edwards told the truth, he was willing to fight for the victory. Kerry bailed.

The same guys who screwed over Al Gore screwed over Kerry. But Al Gore was fighting and would have continued if the Supreme Court hadn't shut it down. Al made mistakes during the recounts (first of all, he listened to his team) but he was fighting. You need to remember that because if a fight takes place in 2008, you need to remember that in 2000, the media was calling for Gore to give up. He kept on. Until the Supreme Court.

Now John Kerry knew going in what happened to Gore. Which is why I have little respect for him. He promised to fight and he crumpled.

You think Barack can stand up to the press? They start telling him to give it up and he'll whine, "Can I just eat my waffles! Sob. Sob."

Hillary will fight.

But I don't think the Democrats win under Barack. He's too out of touch and so is Panhandle Media. He's weak and they see that as 'thoughtful.' That's not how most Americans see it. They see him as weak. Dependent upon his surrogates to do the battles he thinks he's too good for.

"Barack Obama sacks adviser over talks with Hamas" (Tom Baldwin, Times of London):
One of Barack Obama's Middle East policy advisers disclosed yesterday that he had held meetings with the militant Palestinian group Hamas -- prompting the likely Democratic nominee to sever all links with him.
Robert Malley told The Times that he had been in regular contact with Hamas, which controls Gaza and is listed by the US State Department as a terrorist organisation. Such talks, he stressed, were related to his work for a conflict resolution think-tank and had no connection with his position on Mr Obama’s Middle East advisory council.
"I've never hidden the fact that in my job with the International Crisis Group I meet all kinds of people," he added.

How many chances is he supposed to get before people grasp that he cannot win?

"Iraq snapshot" (The Common Ills):
Friday, May 9, 2008. Chaos and violence continue, the assault on Sadr City continues, Barack loses a campaign staffer who was in talks with an organization the US has labeled a terrorist group (no, not Ayers & Dohrn) and more.

Starting with war resistance. Who is
Ehren Watada? The answer is fairly obvious, the first officer to publicly refuse to deploy to Iraq. But facts is hard for little local weeklies. Nina Shapiro (Seattle Weekly) takes time out from attacking Hillary but it's too bad she and her editor couldn't take the time to be factual. "Not Every Deserter Gets the Watada Treatement" is the headline and she matches that choice with her own writing. She writes, "When it comes to the military's handling of deserters, there is little consistency. Some, like outspoken war opponent Lt. Ehren Watada, face courts-marial and potentail jail sentences, while . . ." Where to begin. They do not generally face "courts"-martial. Watada may if double-jeopardy is thrown out. The face "court-martials." The "court" is singular. "Outspoken war opponent"? He can't just be a "war opponent," to Nina, he has to be "outspoken." That's curious considering he's given one interview since the failed Feb. 2007 court-martial. That was over a year ago. And prior to the court-martial, he'd already shut the press down. But there's Nina, trumping up the charges, just like she does with Hillary. Let's go slow for Nina: "Report to the nearest Army post with your Army ID or other picture ID and any documents or records in your possession which pertain to your Army service. On the installation, go to the Military Police station and turn yourself in to the MPs." What's that from? Fort Knox Law Enforcement Command's "US Army Deserter Information Point." Ehren Watada did not desert. He wasn't charged with desertion for that reason. Watada did not desert. It's a shame that Nina has to (again) put her name to lies because 'facts is hard.' But she's not interested in war resistance, she's interested in pushing lies. There's no war resistance in the story (which isn't about Watada, she just wanted to slime him and see if she get away with acting stupid in public). When trash likes this gets shoved off on the public, everyone loses. The serial liar was pushing conflict between today's veterans and earlier ones. That was a laughable article ("Camaraderie is in short supply"). So is this one. Is no one capable of a basic fact check at Seattle Weekly or do they just not care?

In Canada, war resisters are hoping the Parliament will take action on a motion waiting to be debated. Currently, you can utilize the following e-mails to show your support: Prime Minister Stephen Harper ( -- that's pm at who is with the Conservative party and these two Liberals, Stephane Dion ( -- that's Dion.S at who is the leader of the Liberal Party and Maurizio Bevilacqua ( -- that's Bevilacqua.M at who is the Liberal Party's Critic for Citizenship and Immigration. In addition Jack Layton, NDP leader, has a contact form and they would like to hear from people as well. A few more addresses can be found here at War Resisters Support Campaign. For those in the US, Courage to Resist has an online form that's very easy to use.
There is a growing movement of resistance within the US military which includes Matt Mishler, Josh Randall, Robby Keller, Justiniano Rodrigues, Chuck Wiley, James Stepp, Rodney Watson, Michael Espinal, Matthew Lowell, Derek Hess, Diedra Cobb,
Brad McCall, Justin Cliburn, Timothy Richard, Robert Weiss, Phil McDowell, Steve Yoczik, Ross Spears, Peter Brown, Bethany "Skylar" James, Zamesha Dominique, Chrisopther Scott Magaoay, Jared Hood, James Burmeister, Jose Vasquez, Eli Israel, Joshua Key, Ehren Watada, Terri Johnson, Clara Gomez, Luke Kamunen, Leif Kamunen, Leo Kamunen, Camilo Mejia, Kimberly Rivera, Dean Walcott, Linjamin Mull, Agustin Aguayo, Justin Colby, Marc Train, Abdullah Webster, Robert Zabala, Darrell Anderson, Kyle Snyder, Corey Glass, Jeremy Hinzman, Kevin Lee, Mark Wilkerson, Patrick Hart, Ricky Clousing, Ivan Brobeck, Aidan Delgado, Pablo Paredes, Carl Webb, Stephen Funk, Blake LeMoine, Clifton Hicks, David Sanders, Dan Felushko, Brandon Hughey, Logan Laituri, Jason Marek, Clifford Cornell, Joshua Despain, Joshua Casteel, Katherine Jashinski, Dale Bartell, Chris Teske, Matt Lowell, Jimmy Massey, Chris Capps, Tim Richard, Hart Viges, Michael Blake, Christopher Mogwai, Christian Kjar, Kyle Huwer, Wilfredo Torres, Michael Sudbury, Ghanim Khalil, Vincent La Volpa, DeShawn Reed and Kevin Benderman. In total, at least fifty 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 [(877) 447-4487], 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. In addition, VETWOW is an organization that assists those suffering from MST (Military Sexual Trauma).

Turning to Iraq and starting with the press. In February of this year, (PDF format warning) Reporters Without Borders released "
Freedom Of The Press Worldwide in 2008." which noted 57 journalists killed in 2007. If you're in Iraq and trying to report, just FYI, you're a journalist. You're not "a media worker" (RWB uses that phrase). "More than half the recorded physical attacks on the media were in Baghdad despite the huge presence there of Iraqi forces and US troops. . . . On top of the violence, Iraqi journalists face new restrictions imposed by the authorities, including a ban in May 2007 on filming the sites of bomb attacks and another in November on going to the Kandil mounatins, near the Iraqi-Turkish border, to talk to Kurdish PKK rebels." Earlier this week, The Committee to Protect Journalists posed Joel Campangna's report on the Kurdish region of Iraq which included the story of Nasseh Abdel Raheem Rashid whose reporting "railed against the political in Iraqi Kurdistan and the actions of uncscrupulous political officials." Campangna continues:As he strolled through the central market on his hometown of Halabja in eastern Iraqi Kurdistan last October, four armed men wearing military uniforms forced him into a waiting Nissan pickup, bound his hands and legs, and covered his head with a sack. "I didn't know where I was going. They drove around for a few hours and then went over what seemed like an unpaved road," Rashid told the Committee to Protect Journalists during an interview in Sulaymania shortly after the incident. Rashid said he was pulled from the truck, punched and kicked, and threatened at gunpoint to stop working or be killed. The assailants sped off, leaving Rashid bruised and shaken.

That is only one story in Campagna's report.
Click here for audio of him talking about report.
177 is the number of journalists who have been killed in Iraq since the start of the illegal war. CPJ divides up "media support workers" and "journalists" as well, we don't. Support workers in a war zone are doing a number of jobs they are journalists and, if they are targeted for who they are working for, the "I am just a media support worker!" is not a magic shield that protects them. On a related note, we have consistently avoided highlighting the work of US reporters who 'report' on Iraq from the US but attach themselves to the work done by local population. That's led to a number of mainstream stories being 'missed' but it's not missed because there is something pathetic and dishonest about it. Mentioning it today because among the links pulled from this site (The Common Ills) was a 'news' site where, article after article, an American journalist in the US feels the needs to attach his name to a reporter in Iraq's writing. When said journalist was supposed to go back to Iraq (he lost focus and ended up in Lebanon in the summer of 2006 instead), the Iraqi journalist was more than able to write his own reports for the web outlet. He had no problems with English (though if he had, no one would have been concerned because his voice is of value). He did a great job. But "I WANT ATTENTION!" can't make it back to Iraq and feels the need to put his name to first hand reports from Iraq. We're not highlighting that crap. It's insulting and offensive. And, hate to break it to the 'left,' it's the height of colonialism. So bye-bye. The community won't miss you. It is grossly offensive for an American in the US to feel the need to add his name to these first-hand reports of an Iraqi journalist in Iraq risking his life. We won't applaud that crap and shame on anyone who does. It has gone on now for over a year and it is offensive and people in the press are starting to talk about it. We draw a line. We also draw a line with 'respectable' source Pig -- twice busted for sexual predator activities online. Matthew Rothschild interviews Pig this week. Didn't listen, didn't need to. He's been delinked. The Progressive will be delinked from all sites. The Real Press kicked Pig to the curb because of his arrests. Panhandle Media wants to pretend like he's a 'respectable' source. He's not. If a young girl is raped or assaulted by Pig, it's on Panhandle Media's hands because they can't stop promoting him.

Back to the threats journalists in Iraq operate under.
Selcan Hacaoglu (AP) reports that the BBC's Baghdad bureau was "damaged" by a rocket attack on the Green Zone and quotes Patrick Howse explaining, "It caused structural damage but no one was injured." Deborah Haynes (Times of London) notes, "It was one of a number of rockets fired towards the heavily fortified Green Zone by Shit insurgents taking advantage of a sudden sandstorm, which gave them cover from counter-attack by US aircraft." Meanwhile a McClatchy Newspapers Iraqi journalist blogs at Inside Iraq that "6 days after the occasion of World Press Freedom, Iraqi media witnessed a new violation against freedom of speech. Yesterday Iraqi forces closed Al Ahad Radio Station an excuse of adopting provocative political speech. I have many friends who listen to this radio as I do; I asked my friends if they notice any instagative tones in the programs or newscast of this radio . . . the answers were negative -- as always." Nouri al-Maliki, puppet of the occupation, made it clear in the summer of 2006 that he had no respect for a free press and he's only continued that pattern.

Somethings get little or no coverage, somethings get massive coverage. Like yesterday's big news (which was rightly ignored in yesterday's snapshot) that THE leader of al Qaeda in Iraq leader was captured! In today's paper (so filed hours and hours before sunrise),
Alissa J. Rubin (New York Times) noted the capture with qualifiers and, as a result, has no egg on her face -- unlike all of those 'reporting' it had happened! It never happened. Damien McElroy (Telegraph of London) traces back over the lie and US Maj (press flack division) Peggy Kageleiry stating, "This guy has a similar name." BBC leads with: "The United States military in Iraq says a man detained in the northern city of Mosul is not in fact the leader of al-Qaeda in Iraq." As Tina Susman notes (LA Times' blog Babylon & Beyond), "For a few hours late Thursday and early today, it seemed the Al Qaeda in Iraq chief might actually be in custody." Yesterday afternoon, Tina Susman noted that the US military backed off from their usual declarations of charges against Iran and she writes:
A plan to show some alleged Iranian-supplied explosives to journalists last week in Karbala and then destroy them was canceled after the United States realized none of them was from Iran. . . . Iran, meanwhile, continues to seethe after an Iraqi delegation went to Tehran last week to confront it with the accusations. It has denied the accusations, and it says as long as U.S. forces continue to take part in military action in Iraq's Shiite strongholds, it won't consider holding further talks with Washington on how to stabilize Iraq."

In Iraq the assault on Sadr City continues.
Sahar Issa (McClatchy Newspapers) reports, "Casualties in Sadr city for the last 24 hours stand at 14 men and 1 woman killed and 112 wounded many of whom are women, children and elderly people according to medical sources inside Sadr city." Leila Fadel (McClatchy Newspapers) notes the Thursday order by the Iraqi military for "residents to evacuate" and that "Sadr City has been a battleground since late March, enduring U.S. airstrikes, militia snipers and gunbattles between U.S. and Iraqi forces and the Mahdi Army, the militia loyal to Sadr. Already some 8,500 people have been displaced from the sprawling slums of some 2.5 million people, according to the Iraqi Red Crescent." Said Rifai (LA Times' Baghdad & Beyond) reports that one of the stadiums set up for Sadr City refugees (Shaab Stadium) is currently empty, that 25 tents are empty and other tents are nearby unassembled and: "Only Sadr City residents are allowed at this camp, which has made for some awkward moments. Seveeral families from other areas arrived Thursday but were turned away. . . . Sadr City residents have to get accreditation from one of their local police stations to qualify to stay in the stadium." And when someone calls it an Iraqi operation, note Eric Owls (NYT's Baghdad Bureau) statement yesterday: "The American military is fighting daily battles for the control of Baghdad's Shiite neighborhood of Sadr City." al-Maliki started it but don't think for a moment it's al-Maliki 'on the line.' That trip down to Basra was purely for show. AFP reports, "An aide to radical cleric Moqtada al-Sadr lashed out on Firday at Iraq's most revered Shiite cleric, Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani, for keeping silent over clashes that have killed hundreds in Baghdad" and quotes him (Sheikh Sattar Battat)stating, "We are surprised by the silence Najaf where the highest Shiite religious authority is based. . . . For 50 days Sadr City is being bombed. . . Children, women and old people are being killed by all kinds of US weaspons, and Najaf remains silent." Howard LaFranchi (Christian Science Monitor) notes, "Residents of this city's embattled Sadr City district are growing increasingly anxious that an escalation in fighting is imminent." Chris Floyd (Baltimore Chronicle) rightly notes, "George W. Bush and David Petraeus are preparing to make a new Fallujah in Sadr City, home to two million Shiites in Baghdad. Thousands of people are already fleeing the area before the full-scale slaughter and destruction begin. As in Fallujah, the multitudes who cannot escape will be trapped in a 'free fire zone' subjected to ruthless bombardment and ground assualt. Thousands -- perhaps tens of thousands -- of innocent civilians stand in the shadow of imminent death." But Panhandle Media largely stayed silent during the slaughter of Falluja and they're even more silent during the slaughter of Sadr City.

In other reported violence . . .


Sahar Issa (McClatchy Newspapers) reports a Baghdad rocket attack that wounded three people, US air strikes in Baghdad left eight people wounded and 2 Baghdad mortar attacks claimed 2 lives and left eleven wounded. AFP reports, "A rocket attack on a coalition military base in Basra killed two civilian contractors Friday . . . . The two civilian contractors died when rockets slammed into the US-led coalition's base near Basra's international airport, wounding eight others, including four coalition soldiers, the military said." That was reported late yesterday in the US (by five p.m. EST, it's already midnight in Iraq). Reuters notes four members of the Iraqi military were injured in a Kirkuk roadside bombing.


Reuters notes 3 "Awakening" Council members shot dead in Baiji and three police officers and five people were wounded in an attack outside Balad utilizing "rifles and rocket propelled grenades."


Sahar Issa (McClatchy Newspapers) reports 2 corpses discovered in Baghdad.

Yesterday's snapshot noted: "Murray wasn't just noting a hearing the day before (see here and here for that hearing), she was also noting the very real frustration with the Veterans Affairs Department on the part of the Congress which includes begging off and blowing off the Senate Veterans Affairs Committee." That's here and here. Links weren't included. Yesterday's snapshot detailed the Senate Veeterans Affairs Committee Wednesday hearing on benefits. Today Paul Kane (Washington Post) reports that "Blue Dog Democrats" are in opposition to a House measure specifically because of "the creation of a program that would guarantee veterans returning from Iraq and Afghanistan a year of in-state college tuition for each year served in the war zones." Now let's get this straight, the "Blue Dogs" are okay with funding the illegal war and argue that not to do so would be sending a message to the troops in Iraq; however, they're okay with sending the message that your tours of duty aren't even worth in-state tuition if you're fortunate enough to survive? That's some message. Meanwhile Julian E. Barnes (Los Angeles Times) reports that the Pentagon is stating that stop-loss/back-door draft numbers have "risen sharply" and that the "number steadily declined through May 2007, when it hit 8,540. But since then, the number of soldiers subjected to stop-loss orders began to increase again, reaching 12,235 in March 2008." Drop back to the February 26th snapshot where the Senate Armed Services Committee heard testimony from the Sec of the Army and Gen George W. Casey:

In regards to the issue of the months involved in a tour, the committee chair, Carl Levin, had to be rather specific repeatedly finally asking "shorthand, you have to drawdown to what level?" Levin also had to pin Casey and Geren down regarding stop-loss. Beaming, Geren declared that the Army will get the number of stop-lossed soldiers down to "a little less than 8,000 today" and insisted -- at length -- that the Army wanted to "move away from" using stop-loss. Stop-loss is the backdoor draft. It's when you're service contract is ending and you're told, "Forget what your contract says, you're staying." Pressed by Levin about the decrease in the number of soldiers stop-lossed that Geren was so optimistic about, the Secretary of the Army swallowed and stated, "It might get to 7,000." Wow. It might drop to 7,000. To hear him spin and spin before Levin pinned him down you would have thought the figure was going to be significantly below 5,000. Geren insisted, "We're growing this Army faster than we planned."

Translation, they lied to Congress.

His name wasn't even on the ballot! Oh how the losers have cried that -- including an elderly woman with a shaky voice who really needs to be told "Step away from the microphone" -- about Barack Obama and Michigan.
Michigan's Secretary of State on October 9, 2007: "Four Democratic presidential candidates -- U.S. Sen. Barack Obama (D-Ill.), New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson, U.S. Sen. Joe Biden (D-Del.) and former U.S. Sen. John Edwards -- filed affidavits with the Michigan Department of State requesting that their names be removed from Michigan's Jan. 15 Democratic Party Primary ballot. This means four Democratic candiates are still on the Michigan ballot: U.S. Sen. Hillary Clinton (D-N.Y.), U.S. Sen. Christopher Dodd (D-Conn), U.S. Rep. Dennis Kucinich and U.S. Sen. Mike Gravel (D- Ala)."

Hillary won Michigan. She received 328,209 votes. 594,398 votes were cast in the Democratic presidential primary. "Uncommitted" received 238,168 votes. As
Jerlyn (TalkLeft) points out, Barack's attempting to claim those 238,168 votes and more: "It not only gives Obama all of the uncommitted delegates, a number that includes those who voted for uncommitted for Edwards, it includes those who voted for Dodd, Kucinich and Gravel and gives him some that voted for Hillary." It takes a lot of nerve to remove yourself from the field and then claim you earned a trophy. But hasn't that been the Obama campaign from day one?

Way back when,
Peter Slevin (Washington Post) explained it all: "Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton is the only top-tier Democrat on the Jan. 15 Michigan primary ballot, but followers of her chief rivals are hoping to wound her all the same. . . . The campaigns of Sen. Barack Obama and former Senator John Edwards are urging their supporters to cast ballots for 'uncommitted,' according to stae Democratic party chairman Mrak Brewer." "Uncommitted" should be divided between the four. If any "giving" is to be done, that's done on the floor of the national convention. But it's not enough that he try to steal what he didn't earn, he also wants to steal from Hillary Clinton. Now as I understand spots from my children participating when they were younger, you forfeit a game, you're the loser. When the championship's being awarded to another team you can't run up and say, "B-b-but, we forfeited and we should get credit for that!" Barack wants credit for a race he chose not to take part in. Talk about a sense of entitlement. It's not even the rules. (The rules were X number of delegates -- non-pleged -- would be sent to the convention.)

I thought the media said he was 'winning,' that he had the nomination all 'sewn up'. If so, why be such a little thief? Because he's not winning. Because he's not closed the deal. Because Hillary is expected to beat him in several upcoming primaries. Because he is probably unelectable in a general election nation wide. Nation wide is 50 states, not 48. A general election isn't a primary. If he gets the nomination, he'll be dragged through the mud and this is, after all, the fussiest candidate since the current occupant of the Oval Office. "I must have down time in the Virgin Islands!" "I need two days off from campaigning!"

The latter was last week. That was cute. He took Wednesday off by staying home when his weak ass should have been in the Senate for the Veterans Affairs Committee -- which he sits on -- hearing on Veterans Benefits. But he wasn't there. Again. He managed yesterday to hobble through the House but he wasn't elected to the House and he's unable to do the Senate's business. But somehow, he wants America to believe, he'll be able to do their business.
Susan UnPC (No Quarter) has posted the RNC's first video roll out against Bambi -- it's not pretty and this is the GOP taking baby-steps. (About the Louis. election, the elected Dem is a conservative and he started out with a double digit lead and barely squeaked by on election day after only a few weeks of the ads by the Republicans attacking him for his 'link' to Barack. Repeating, Barack at the top of the ticket risks Democratic control of Congress.) What group doesn't he have a lock on? I know that's a tough questions because there are so many; however, I'm referring to seniors and he's taken to knocking John McCain because of his age, doing the typical crap Barack does because Barack has no issues to run and no record to run on. John McCain's campaign (PDF format warning and link goes to USA Today) responds: "First, let us be clear about the nature of Senator Obama's attack today. He used the words 'losing his bearings' intentionally, a not particularly clever way of raising John McCain's age as an issue. This is typical of the Obama campagning. We have all become familiar with Senator Obama's new brand of politics. First, you demand civility from your opponent, then you attack him, distort his record and send out surrogates to question his integrity. It is called hypocrisy, and it is the oldest kind of politics there is. It is important to focus on what Senator Obama is attempting to do here: He is trying desperately to delegitimize the discussion of issues that raise legitimate questions about his judgement and preparedness to be President of the United States. Through their actions and words, Senator Obama and his supporters have made clear that ANY criticism on ANY issue -- from his desire to raise taxes on millions of small investors to his radical plans to sit down face-to-face with Iranian President Ahmadinejad -- constitute negative, personal attacks. Senator Obama is hopeful that the media will continue to form a protective barrier around him, declaring serious limits to the questions, discussion and debate in this race. Senator Obama has good reason to think this plan will succeed, as serious journalists have written off the need for 'de-tox' to cure 'swooing' over Senator Obama, and others have admitted to losing their objectivity while with him on the campaign trail." You need to pay attention closely to that memo. Had John Edwards, Joe Biden, Bill Richardson or Chris Dodd done anything like that, they'd still be in the race.

The reality is no one likes a brown noser, no one likes a teacher's pet or a little prince given everything. Hillary's a fighter and the fact that she is has turned the Democratic primary into a deadheat. John McCain appears to grasp what will work and what won't with Barack. Grinning like an idiot on stage next to Barack? Chuckeling? Playing his groveling little buddy to the point that you like a scared puppy exposing your belly? Getting punked and taking it with no challenge? Didn't work and all the men found that out, now didn't they? The only one who has held their own is Hillary and she's done that because -- though the pundit class hates strength -- the American people love it. Mark Salter, with that memo, goes from writer of McCain speeches to campaign operative to watch and you better believe Newsweek's gearing up their glossy profile. In terms of Barack's attacks on McCain's age, it's dumb, it's stupid and it will hurt him with seniors. If Barack's given the nomination, he's just given them the ammo to become "Democrats for McCain."
Tom Baldwin (Times of London) reports that Robert Malley has left the Obama campaign after bragging to the paper that "he had regularly been in contact with Hamas, which controls Gaza but is listed by the US State Department as a terrorist organisation." By the strictest reading of the Patriot Act, I believe Team Obama could be locked away. Good thing Barack voted against the Patriot Act! Oh, wait, he voted to reauthorize it. And, yes, it does go to judgement, it does go to leadership and, yes, once again Obama has failed.

Perry Bacon Jr. (Washington Post) reports Hillary was in Portland today speaking about healthcare, "The plan I have proposed would cover everyone, children and adults. An artificial distinction between children and adults is unworkable, you have to have [a] seamless health care system that covers every single American. My plan does, my opponent's doesn't." AP quotes her saying, "If you don't start in favor of universal health care, you'll never get there. How can you run for the Democratic nomination and not have a universal health care plan?" David Chalian (ABC News) notes that the Clinton campaign's Geoff Garin and Howard Wolfson "offered a power point presentation looking at 20 competitive House districts currently held by freshmen Democrats that also went for President George W. Bush in the 2004 presidential election. Of those 20 districts, Clinton has defeated Obama in 16 of them during the course of the nomination battle and Obama has been victorious in four of them. Eleven of those 20 members have yet to endorse in the Democratic presidential race. Five have endorsed Clinton - including two this week - and four have endorsed Obama." The argument is correct. It was obvious in January to anyone studying the results (Obama has a larger portion of voters who only vote for him and in no other race -- indicating they are Republicans who will cross over only for him or that they're entire 2008 vote is for Obama only). With him being handed the nomination, the risk is that you drives away the base. That puts Congress at risk. But as Donna Brazile indicated in an e-mail Wednesday, it doesn't matter. Or, as she put it, "Message to the base: stay home." Message to Donna, stay away from buffets. You're going to have heart failure with all the pounds you're packing. Brian Goldsmith (CBS News) interviewed West Virginia governor Joe Manchin and asked about Tuesday's primary and whether the race should continue to which the governor responded: "Oh, absolutely. I truly believe so. And it's an exciting time to be a Democrat in the United States of America. And we have so many of them here. They're all excited about our primary. Myself, I'm up in the primary election. So we're all geared up for this. And having both of the candidates come to West Virginia adds that much more excitement to it."

Matt Tepper has a photo essay at and writes: "Hillary Clinton proudly became the first Democratic Presidential candidate to visit the Mount Rushmore State on Thursday afternoon. Nearly 2000 South Dakotans packed the Landmark Aviation Hangar in Sioux Falls to hear Hillary speak about her Solutions for America. Hillary clearly demonstrated that she is ready to lead this nation starting on day one and she is best prepared to beat John McCain in November. When Hillary is president, the voices of South Dakota families will finally be heard. On June 3rd South Dakotans will get their opportunity to vote in this historic primary!"

In other news, Cynthia McKinney's campaign has not refuted Ted Glick's statements (that they linked to last week) so she's not a real candidate for president. This will be an editorial at Third. We are done with her in the primary coverage and it's doubtful she'll be mentioned too often in the general election. We're covering candidates running to win the office, not to run a tiny percentage.
Team Nader announces Ralph needs "$50,000 to get Nader-Gonzales on the ballot in Illinois. Land of Lincoln. Where Ralph Nader was bumped off the ballot in 2004 by the state's Democratic machine. Where already in 2008, state Democratic machine operatives are making threats about keeping us off again." Oh come on, Ralph, the Dems would never do that, they believe in count ever vote. Oh, wait. Florida and Michigan. That's right, they don't believe in count every vote. They believe in count every vote that they want counted which is far less than universal suffrage.

Wednesday, May 07, 2008

The shoot themselves in the foot crowd

My very good friend Rebecca is an environmentalist and a staunch one. Though I support her and care about the environment, I have never been a part of the "environmental movement." She can put up the with the crazies (I use that in the generic and not diagnostic sense), I can't.

They always get a little too crazy, a little too frothy, a little too much proseltyzing for my tastes. Case in point, two Gs frothing in the Los Angeles Times about the gas tax holiday proposed by both Hillary Clinton and John McCain. The second G thinks he's 'rational,' or 'normal' or 'moderate.' He's probably loonier than the first G because at least the first G knows what he stands for. Both Gs buy into the crackpot belief that a gas tax holiday (18 cents per gallone federal tax being suspended) will mean that people will beging driving like crazy.

The two men live in their own little biodome -- far, far from the shores of reality.

For some people, eighteen cents won't mean a thing. For others, those in need, it will mean a small savings. In neither case do I see mass gas usage.

But, and this is why the wack jobs never get my support, what they really want is for people to stop driving now. As a want that would be fine. We can all want whatever we want. But trying to push that through? That's loony time.

I'm not in the mood for idiots. Most Americans do not have access to reliable mass transportation. But the loons would pull the gas plug right now because they know best and they are the little gods of stupidity.

You'll note they both live in California.

California is one state in the union, not all fifty.

They are so grossly out of touch with people in, for example, Kentucky that they never understand how they make every push a losing issue. They never grasp that everyone in the world is not like them, does not live their lives like them and does not experience everything they do.

So they oppose the gas tax holiday not out of concern for the economy but out of a crackpot conviction that a gas tax holiday would result in an increase in driving across the country.

Instead, they play scols who will punish the American people and, thing is, they like that. The high horse gives them an orgasm.

It's why the environmental movement in this country has been such crap and so ineffective.

For every person, such as Barbara Kingsolver, who does grasp the realities for many Americans, you have to about a hundred who don't grasp it, don't want to and just want to feel superior.

They are failures by choice and always will be.

I've named Rebecca and Barbara Kingsolver as exceptions. If you're offended, you can figure out if you fit into the real world like those two or if you just enjoy riding a high horse like the two Gs. If it's the latter, by all means, be offended. But that will probably make you feel even better about yourself, now won't it?

Somewhere around the time this country stopped worrying about the ecology and started talking about the environment, the movement had gone off the rails and there are far too many interested in being right that will probably keep it that way for a long, long time.

"As West Virginia Takes Center Stage, Clinton Campaign Ramps Up Statewide Get Out The Vote Effort" (
Charleston, WV) - All eyes are on West Virginia as the Mountain State takes center stage in the Democratic presidential primary. West Virginia leaders and Clinton campaign volunteers will be out in full force tomorrow, urging West Virginians to make their voice heard by Early Voting.

"If there was ever a critical time to vote in a primary election, this is it. The eyes of the world are watching to see what West Virginia voters will do. The Mountain State has made the difference in choosing a President before and we can do it again by supporting Hillary Clinton," said Kent Carper, President of the Kanawha County Commission.

Former First Daughter Chelsea Clinton will also campaign in the Mountain State tomorrow, attending an "Our Economy, Our Future" event at Shepherd University. Sen. Hillary Clinton will campaign in Charleston on Thursday with a "Solutions for America" Rally at the West Virginia State Capitol.

"West Virginia is ready to go. This is a competitive race and every vote makes a difference. We are working hard to turn our strong support for Hillary Clinton in Early Vote and in the upcoming primary," said House Delegate Bob Tabb (56th District).

Elected leaders from across the Mountain States are joining volunteers in knocking on doors, making calls, and holding visibilities to get out the vote for Hillary.

"Hillary Clinton has shown a strong commitment to our state and an understanding of the issues affecting the everyday lives of West Virginians. Now it is time to make our voice heard for Hillary Clinton," said Mayor of Hinton Cleo Mathews, who is holding a "Honk and Wave" tomorrow in Hinton.

The West Virginia Veterans for Hillary Steering Committee is also organizing veterans across the state to get out the vote for Clinton.

"Hillary Clinton stands up and delivers for veterans and military families. I am proud to be working with veterans across the state to get out the vote for Hillary," said John Clarke, a member of the West Virginia for Hillary Steering Committee.

Get Out the Vote Activities Wednesday, May 7, 2008 include:

7 a.m. - Honk and Wave with Mayor Cleo Mathews - HINTON
Intersection of 2nd Avenue and Temple Street
Hinton, WV 25951

7:30 a.m. Honk and Wave - MORGANTOWN
County Courthouse Courtyard at High Street & Spruce Street
Morgantown, WV 26505

7:30 a.m. Honk and Wave - CHARLESTON
Washington Street West & Pennsylvania Street
Charleston, WV 25302

7:30 a.m. Honk and Wave - MARTINSBURG
King St. & Queen St
Martinsburg, WV 25401

7:30 a.m. Honk and Wave - LEWISBURG
Intersection of US 219 & US 60
Lewisburg, WV 24901

7:30 a.m. Honk and Wave - FAIRMONT
Fairmont St & 10th Street
Fairmont, WV 26554

4:30 p.m. "Honk and Wave" - KANAWHA CITY
35 Street Bridge
Charleston, WV 25311

6 p.m. Wheeling for Hillary Headquarters Open House - WHEELING
62 12th Street
Wheeling, WV 26003

6 p.m. Women for Hillary Phone Bank - FAIRMONT
Fairmont for Hillary Headquarters
312 Adams Street
Fairmont, WV 26554

6:30 p.m. Women for Hillary Phone Bank and Sign-Making Party - CHARLESTON
Charleston Headquarters
191 Summers Street
Charleston, WV 25301

She's still in the race because (a) the race is a tie and (b) she's a fighter. Hillary Clinton is the only choice for the Democratic Party. If they want to commit political suicide (wouldn't be the first time), they can go with Barack. If they want to win and maintain control of Congress, they'll choose Hillary.

"Iraq snapshot" (The Common Ills):
Wednesday May 7, 2008. Chaos and violence continue, the US military announces deaths, Congress' hearing on veterans' suicide gets little attention from the media, and more.

Starting with war resistance.
Chris Kirby (Oklahoma's Pioneer Online) notes that Ann Wright recently spoke on campus and explained, "Hundreds of soldiers are going AWOL (absent without leave) because they don't agree with the way that the war in Iraq is being handled. Instead of court-martialing all of these soldiers who are going AWOL, it is easier and faster for the government to just give them a dishonorable discharge." Wright is both retired State Dept and retired military (Army Col.) and she is also the co-author with Susan Dixon of DISSENT: Voices of Conscience.
Wright has traveled extensively getting the word out and that includes getting the word out on war resisters and speaking with them. She's recently been of assistance to James Burmeister who has returned from Canada. In Canada, war resisters are hoping the Parliament will take action on a motion waiting to be debated. Currently, you can utilize the following e-mails to show your support: Prime Minister Stephen Harper ( -- that's pm at who is with the Conservative party and these two Liberals, Stephane Dion ( -- that's Dion.S at who is the leader of the Liberal Party and Maurizio Bevilacqua ( -- that's Bevilacqua.M at who is the Liberal Party's Critic for Citizenship and Immigration. In addition Jack Layton, NDP leader, has a contact form and they would like to hear from people as well. A few more addresses can be found here at War Resisters Support Campaign. For those in the US, Courage to Resist has an online form that's very easy to use.
There is a growing movement of resistance within the US military which includes Matt Mishler, Josh Randall, Robby Keller, Justiniano Rodrigues, Chuck Wiley, James Stepp, Rodney Watson, Michael Espinal, Matthew Lowell, Derek Hess, Diedra Cobb,
Brad McCall, Justin Cliburn, Timothy Richard, Robert Weiss, Phil McDowell, Steve Yoczik, Ross Spears, Peter Brown, Bethany "Skylar" James, Zamesha Dominique, Chrisopther Scott Magaoay, Jared Hood, James Burmeister, Jose Vasquez, Eli Israel, Joshua Key, Ehren Watada, Terri Johnson, Clara Gomez, Luke Kamunen, Leif Kamunen, Leo Kamunen, Camilo Mejia, Kimberly Rivera, Dean Walcott, Linjamin Mull, Agustin Aguayo, Justin Colby, Marc Train, Abdullah Webster, Robert Zabala, Darrell Anderson, Kyle Snyder, Corey Glass, Jeremy Hinzman, Kevin Lee, Mark Wilkerson, Patrick Hart, Ricky Clousing, Ivan Brobeck, Aidan Delgado, Pablo Paredes, Carl Webb, Stephen Funk, Blake LeMoine, Clifton Hicks, David Sanders, Dan Felushko, Brandon Hughey, Logan Laituri, Jason Marek, Clifford Cornell, Joshua Despain, Joshua Casteel, Katherine Jashinski, Dale Bartell, Chris Teske, Matt Lowell, Jimmy Massey, Chris Capps, Tim Richard, Hart Viges, Michael Blake, Christopher Mogwai, Christian Kjar, Kyle Huwer, Wilfredo Torres, Michael Sudbury, Ghanim Khalil, Vincent La Volpa, DeShawn Reed and Kevin Benderman. In total, at least fifty 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 [(877) 447-4487], 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. In addition, VETWOW is an organization that assists those suffering from MST (Military Sexual Trauma).

Yesterday's snapshot addressed Tuesday's House Committee on Veterans' Affairs hearing entitled "The Truth About Veterans' Suicides." But the hearing received little coverage. You can read Lisa Mascaro (Las Vegas Sun), Kimberly Hefling (AP), Afani Ruzik, Ben Bauman and Stefanie Sloan (KTKA -- text and video), Lisa Desjardins (CNN) and CBS News. And that was really it. More have filed since earlier this month but that was it for this morning, the morning after the hearing.

The hearing started with the broadcast of CBS News' reports (Armen Keteyian reporting, Pia Malbran producing)
here and here and then US House Rep Steve Buyer worried how this would look in the record? A transcript of the clips, a website, how? "This is a first," Buyer stated, "that we actually watch a news program. And uh-uh . . . I'm willing to work with the chairman to do something anew but either we refer to a website whereby individuals could pull down the rec-- could pull that down from the record and actually view the video because that was how it was viewed in the committee. Or do we take a trans-trans-transcribe what was just put in there and put that in there." Buyer wasted time there and wasted time throughout. Surprisingly Panhandle Media didn't leap on one of his statements since they love to insult Real Media: "I want to caution my friends in the fourth branch of government who may be covering this hearing: Please do not refer to suicide as an 'epidemic' without saying that treatment is available." No, the press is not "the fourth branch of government." It is supposed to be independent of the government. And suicide is an epidemic among veterans, no matter how Buyer wants to spin it (he's Republican) or how much he wants to pretend that veterans are looking for copy-cat things to do. (That opinion, which he expressed, is very insulting. But he didn't care about insulting veterans, only in attempting to clamp down on the story. Judging by the lack of coverage of yesterday's hearing, he succeeded.)

The topic of the hearing itself was, as Chair Bob Filner noted, "A matter of life and death. A matter of life and death for the veterans that we are responsible for. And I think there's criminal negiligence in the way this was handled." How was suicide handled? The Dept of Veterans Affairs elected fudge and hide the numbers and provided little (being extremely generous) aid to those veterans at risk of committing suicide. Filner connected the cover up to earlier ones such as Agent Orange. "Deny, deny, deny," declared Filner of the pattern. "Then when facts seemingly . . . come to disagree with the denial, you cover up. When the cover up falls apart, you admit a little bit of the problem and underplay it. 'It's only a few people, only a thousand veterans got exposed to that gas. Agent Orange wasn't done very well. Atomic testing, well -- nobody knew what was going on.' And then finally, maybe, you admit it's a problem, way after the fact, try to come to grips with it. We've seen it again and again and again."

Filner pointed out that the VA was reducing it to "numbers, numbers, as if that's all, it's just a sort of bureacratic situation. This is not a bureacratic situation with just numbers. This is a matter of life and death. A matter of life and death for the veterans that we are responsible for. And I think there's criminal negligence in the way this was handled.
If we do not admit, if we do not assume, if we do not know what the problem is then the problem will continue and people die. If that's not criminal negligence, I don't know what is."

Filner reminded the Secretary of the Dept of Veterans Affairs James Peake that they spoke after Peake was confirmed (December 14, 2007) and Filner asked him then if he was going to just try to tide the current administration over for a year or "do something real and have a legacy to look at?" The answer now is that there is a bueracratic coverup and Filner noted that Dr. Michael J. Kusman, the Under Secretary of the VA, wasn't even present despite being mentioned in the e-mails "and he ought to be here."

Where is accountablity? Filner wanted to know if any resignations are being asked for, if there would be any "accountability for what has gone on here?" Filner noted that Peake's perpared statement just offers "bureacratic details". US Rep John Hall used his time to question the fact that veterans seeking help are shuffled around as opposed to meeting with the same provider and forming some sort of bond as well as by noting that the thirty minute 'treatment' periods are ridiculous in terms of therapy ("just about enough time to get started"). US House Rep Phil Hare Mike and Kim Bowman of Illionis whose son Timothy Bowman committed suicide: "They are rightly outraged and angry that from their perspective, the VA didn't do more to help their son." Timothy Bowman returned from serving in Iraq and killed himself nine months after returning from Iraq, in November of 2005.
His father told the Committee in December:

As my family was preparing for a 2005 Thanksgiving meal, our son Timothy was lying on the floor, slowly bleeding to death from a self-inflicted gunshot wound. His war was now over, his demons were gone. Tim was laid to rest in a combination military, firefighter funeral that was a tribute to the man he was. . . . Today you are going to hear a lot of statistical information about sucide, Veterans, and the VA. But keep one thing in mind, our son, Specialist Timothy Noble Bowman, was not counted in any VA statistics of any kind. He had not made it into the VA system because of the stigma of reporting mental problems, he was National Guard, and he was not on a drill weekend when he took his life. The only stastical studay that he was counted in was the CBS study. And there are many more just like him. We call them KBA's, killed because of action. The unkown fallen.

Hare called for universal screenings. And also wondered "how we reach out to those rural veterans" who do not live in close proximity to a VA hospital. Remember the suicide coordinators are only at the 153 VA hospitals, not at the 875 VA Community-Based Outpatient Clinics. Dr. Ronald Maris pointed this out yesterday and told the committee, "Thus the vast majority of VA facilities in fact do not have suicide coordinators." Rep Harry Mitchell noted that the Dept of Veterans Affairs was "not keeping track" of veterans' suicides nationally and:

in December we had a hearing to find out why and Mr. Chairman, I don't know if there was anyone here who attended that hearing and will ever forget it. Mr. Hare mentioned that we heard from Mike and Kim Bowman whose twenty-three-year-old son Tim survived a year of duty in Iraq only to come home to take his own life. Mr. Bowman warned us that our troops were coming home to an underfunded, understaffed, under-equipped VA medical health care system that imposes so many challenges that many are just giving up and so when Dr. Katz insisted at that hearing repeatedly that the VA had all the necessary resources to reach all veterans at risk for suicide and make special treatment available to them I was skeptical. How could Dr. Katz be so sure that there weren't any requests for addtional resources sitting somewhere within the vast VA system that have gone unfulfilled? Was he absolutely certain that there were no pending requests for an additional mental health counselor, for extra gas money to enable a VA employee to drive somewhere to contact an outreach? As Chairman of the Subcommittee on Oversights and Investigations, I felt I had a responsibility to make sure. So I asked the VA to double check. I asked them to take a look at their records and send us any documents relating to any requests for additional resources that have gone unfulfilled or underfilled. My thought was, "If we can find out what the VA needs are to address this problem, we could get to work and make sure that they got it." More than four months later, however, all I've gotten are excuses, complaints and, most recently, a suggestion that I, quote, "Go file a Freedom of Information Act Request." That's not just an insult to me, it's an insult to this committee and to our veterans. I've tried to be reasonable. I've tried to work with Secretary Peake's office but, Mr. Chairman, my patience is at an end. I've given the Department until Friday to finally produce the documents I've requested. If they do not, Mr. Chairman, I want you to know that I will be asking you to pursue a subpoena.

Telling a member of Congress conducting official business to file a freedome of information request is an insult and it's ignoring the separation of powers set up in the Constitution. Yesterday
Thomas Ferraro (Reuters) reported that a subpoena has been authorized by the House's Judiciary Committee for David Addington, Dick Cheney's chief of staff, regarding interrogation policies approved by the White House. One would have assumed that Mitchell's comments would have either rated a stand-alone story or been piggy-backed onto that story but instead they've been largely ignored by the press. It should be noted that in December the VA's Ira Katz gave prepared remarks that were pretty much the same as what James Peake provided yesterday.

After Peake read his prepared statement full of figures and charts, Filner pointed out "We can't do our job if you are not honest with us."

Bob Filner: We're not doing the job. I don't care what your figures show. We have tens of thousands of young people getting out of the military or the guard who have not been adequately diagnosed for either PTSD or brain injury. Every one of your statistics says, 'Those who have come to us,' you know, which is a small fraction of who is out there. So we are not doing the job and we can't do our job, if you are not honest with us. And as I said before in my opening statement, we only came into possession of certain e-mails -- I don't know how many there are out there, but we only have a few -- brought to the public by discovery in a legal case out on the West Coast. So three days after the hearing in which Mr. [Katz], we asked directly, Mr. Mitchell just said it, we asked Dr. Katz, "Do you need any help from us? What resources do you need?" And he said, "No, we've got it taken care of. And here's our statistics and CBS was wrong and you guys shouldn't worry about this." Three days after that,
Dr. Kussman writes to Mr. Katz and others that . . . 'in the clips this morning' -- I don't know if this is from home or work, but you're all working Saturday, that's good -- '18 veterans kill themselves every day. That's what CBS report said. Sounds awful but let's not worry too much if you're considering 24 million veterans.' Even in the first e-mail we have, I don't know how many there are, no one is saying 'We're not doing the job here.' There saying, 'Oh, does this sound good? Does this sound bad?' And Dr. Katz says, 'Yes, there are 18 suicides. Is this supported by the CBS numbers?" Now Dr. Katz, this contradicts what you told us in the hearing three days earlier. Why didn't you just call us up or ask for another hearing and say, 'You know, we're looking at things differently, I misspoke, I want to talk to you some more about the stastics.' This looks like a cover up because you didn't tell us anything. . . . And this is contradictory to what you said under oath to our committee. Why should not either . . . go to court for perjury or resign because you didn't tell us the truth? Dr. Katz, I'm asking you. You keep looking at him, but I'm asking you.

Ira Katz: Thank you for asking. In response to a question from Mr. Mitchell in the December 12th hearing, I and my colleague, Dr. Fred Blow, who accompanied me to the hearing, did mention the eighteen a day for suicides among all veterans. We mentioned the four-to-five a day of suicides among those we cared for in VHA health care services. When I asked him to, Dr. Blow mentioned the fact that overall veterans had a rate suicide of about 1.5 times that of age and sex matched individuals from the general population and he mentioned the fact that among women the ratio of suicide among veterans in our system to the general population was about two. That was mentioned in the hearing on December 12th. There was no cover up. This was mentioned --

Bob Filner: Did you not, did you not say -- and we saw the clips -- did you not say that CBS data was wrong?

Ira Katz: I was not referring to the entire data but the subset of data dealing with the youngest of veterans.

Bob Filner: (chuckeling) So the "Mission Accomplished" should have said "Mission Accomplished Only By Those Sailors Who Are Aboard This Ship In Those Two Days"? We didn't see the fine print? We asked you several times and you said several times that the CBS data was wrong and you never made any qualification of that as far as I can remember. Your story was 'they were wrong.' And you didn't need any help either to deal with this issue. Is that right? You were fine. Why do you keep looking at him? I'm asking you.

Ira Katz: Sir, I did speak about the suicide rates among veterans on December 12th and I continue to have concerns about the CBS reports about rates and standard mortality ratio or ratios among the youngest veterans. I wish they would present their data so we could review it.

Bob Filner: Yeah but you're in charge. They're just reporting. They asked for all of this data and you never gave it to them so they spent six months tryng to find stuff that, Dr. Peake, you said 'We don't have as the VA.' Well they went out and found it. So I assume someone can go out and find it if you thought it was important enough.

James Peake: Mr. Chairman, if I may, I don't disagree with your premise that somebody should be able to go out and find it. We -- they did not provide it to us. Even though we asked so we have now gone out and asked for the same information and I'm very anxious to see what actually came back. We, as I tried to explain, we are using the data from the national sources which is the gold standard that any responsible uhm statistician would be able to use for this. I will tell you that I am worried that suicide in general in this nation is under-reported. Not just in the military. Not just in the VA --

Bob Filner: Well don't start that red herring. We're talking about veterans right now so don't tell me 'well the whole of society is screwed up.' We're going to do this job. On the December 12th data, you don't see any difference, Dr. Katz, between what you told us then and what you said a few days later? You say your consistent?

Ira Katz: Again, the issue is the eighteen a day, the four to five a day, the ratios of 1.5 and 2.0 and those were provided at the December 12th hearing in response to a question by Mr. Mitchell.

Bob Filner: Let me ask on the February 13th e-mails. As we read them, I mean, first you say in one of them "Sh!" -- what did you mean by that, by the way?

Ira Katz: That was very unfortunate.

Bob Filner: Yes, it was.

Ira Katz: I think the e-mail has to be divided into the subject line and the content. I deeply regret the subject line. It was an error and I apologize for that. However, the content of the e-mail, the body of the e-mail, reflects an appropriate and healthy dialogue among members of VA staff about when it's appropriate to disclose and make public information early in the process of developing --

Bob Filner: No, no, an appropriate thing would say 'We're not sure this data . . . We'll study it further. Maybe we should inform the committee." But what you say, "Is this something we should carefully address ourselves in some sort of release before someone stumbles on it?" I mean, that's what you're concerned about, not the suicides, but someone stumbling upon this data.

Ira Katz: No, sir. I'm concerned about saving lives.

Bob Filner: Well but that's not what you suggest here [in the e-mail]

Ira Katz: Sir, that e-mail was in poor tone but the content was a dialogue about what we should do with new information.

Bob Filner: And did you tell Dr. Peake about all of this? About the new data or what this 1000 attempts per day --

Ira Katz: The purpose of that e-mail was to open extensive dialogue within VHA about this emerging data.

Bob Filner: I mean, did you tell Dr. Peake about that, you were showing 1,000 suicide attempts per month?

Ira Katz: I reported it to VHA senior leadership.

Bob Filner: That's not what we have in the e-mails. We just have you talking to the PR guy.

Ira Katz: We were opening a dialogue about what to do with the new information.

Bob Filner: Yeah and the first thing you do is talk to your public relations guy instead of somebody who might know something about how to treat suicide? I mean it seems to me that what you are trying to do is manage the data and not deal with the data.

Ira Katz: Sir, there's been extensive conversation about this with other suicide and mental health people.

Bob Filner: I'm sorry, I didn't --

Ira Katz: There's extensive conversation about the thousand a month with uh-uh other people --

Bob Filner: Not in any information that we have.

Ira Katz: Not in that e-mail, no.

Bob Filner: So you would think that you would tell us about it since we have obviously a concern about it. We're the -- we're the ones that can help get you the money to deal with the issue. It looks to me -- and all I have is what you provided to the court by discovery motions which I assume is as complete as you wanted to be and if you gave us more complete stuff than you probably didn't give enough to the original discovery -- but that your interest is in managing the data as opposed to helping the veteran.

Ira Katz: Sir, earlier at the court in the same hearing I testified under oath about the thousand a month and about knowing about that number was so very important cause that pointed to a thousand people a month where we really could do something to dramatically decrease.

Bob Filner: Why didn't you just write us a letter or come to a meeting or brief us? I mean instead of this kind of managing the data, why didn't you just talk to us about it and say 'We're on it. We're serious. We care about it. We want you to know about it. And we need this much more money or not to do something about it'?

Ira Katz: Dr. Peake spoke to the fact that this wasn't data yet. These were observations in measurements --

Bob Filner: When do you expect that to be real data? Another year? After your term is over? Or what? I mean, it looks like this would never have come to our attention unless there was a court case with discovery. You had never had any intention of talking to us, dealing with the data in an open way, but you were trying to manage it from inside. And who knows when we would have heard about it? Both that court case that got the data and the news media that is looking at this has done a far better job than you have in keeping us informed. I would say.

The court case being referred to started in April. Click
here for Bob Egelko (San Francisco Chronicle) reporting on the opening day (text) and here for audio of Aimee Allsion and Aaron Glantz KPFA live coverage from April 22nd. Register that the VA knew what they were turning over in the court case and had ample time to contact Congress in the many weeks (months) since the Feb. 12th e-mails. They did not do so. As Filner noted, the issue was management of the p.r., not assisting veterans.

We may return to the hearing in a later snapshot this week. Again, it did not get the attention it should have. Turning to Iraq, where the assault on Sadr City continues.
Alissa J. Rubin (New York Times) reports, "Families have begun to leave Sadr City over the past several days, trickling into the grounds of a sports stadium in Baladiat, which is on the western edge of Sadr City. The families, who lived near the front lines of the fighting and the wall being built by the American military to partition the neighborhood, said they had fled because their children were terrified of the bombing. As many as 1,500 families are expected to go to the area in the next few days, said Abu Wa'il, the informal mayor of the refugees who live in the area." Meanwhile Tina Susman (Los Angeles Times) traces the ever changing position of the US with regards to Moqtada al-Sadr whom currently the US military brass avoids distinguishing from "the militia in and around Sadr City" and, although dropping the honorific "sayyid" title recently, "the military still insists that Sadr's Mahdi Army is not its main problem, saying it is 'special groups' that have broken away from Sadr's control." At the paper's blog (Baghdad & Beyond), Sumsan elaborates more explaining that the US military had shifted to JAM to refer to them but today "it is difficult to get the military to even utter the word Mahdi Army, much less JAM, during news brieifins. Instead, when discussing the ongoing fighting with militiamen in Shiite neighborhoods, they refer to 'criminal gangs' or 'thugs.' They insist that Sadr's fighters are not being targeted in the fighting that has raged in his stronghold, Sadr City, since Iraqi forces backed by U.S. troops launched an offensive against militias -- er, criminal gangs and thugs -- in March." NPR's Day to Day reported today that the Sadr City death toll "has reached more than 1,000" and Tom Bowman explained that "Jalal Talabani, he's the president of Iraq, he sent a letter to Parliament basically saying, let's try to come up with a truce here and one of his suggestions is for the fighters to turn in their medium and heavy weapons. Also he's proposing an amnesty for those who have not killed either Iraqi or American forces." Left unstated was why anyone in Sadr City needs an amnesty? Think about it, Talabani's amnesy does not include anyone who has killed either Iraq or American forces. So who needs an amnesty? Apparently the residents of Sadr City because they have been targeted by the militaries of two countries (the US and Iraq) and they are a civilian population. Apparently Iraqi civilians need to be granted amnesty by Talabani and, until they are, they are all 'worthy' targets.

Turning to some of today's reported violence . . .


Mohammed Al Dulaimy (McClatchy Newspapers) reports a Baghdad stick bombing wounded three people, another wounded one person and a Mosul bombing "flattened a policeman's house". Reuters notes a Mussayab oil pipeling bombng that wounded four guards.


Mohammed Al Dulaimy (McClatchy Newspapers) reports an armed clash in Nineveh resulted in the deaths of 2 Iraqi soldiers. Reuters notes 1 Iraqi military officer shot dead in al-Numaniya outside his home.


Mohammed Al Dulaimy (McClatchy Newspapers) reports 5 corpses were discovered in Baghdad.

Today the
US military announced: "A Multi-National Force -- West Soldier was killed in action against an enemy force while on patrol in Anbar Province May 6." This follows the announcement made late yesterday: "A Multi-National Division -- North soldier was killed from wounds sustained in an insurgent attack against the soldier's patrol in Ninewah Province May 6. One soldier was also wounded in the attack and was taken to a Coalition force hospital for treatment." The announcements brings the number of US service members killed in Iraq since the start of the illegal war to 4073.

In other news,
Leila Fadel (McClatchy Newspapers) reports Iraq's puppet government is no longer willing to play the matchmaker for the US and Iran and quotes Iraqi Foreign Minister Hoshyar Zebari declaring, "We believe the conditions should be conducive. In the atmosphere of media attacks . . . and the lack of trust and confidence, I don't think we will succeed in having the fourth round." Meanwhile IRIN reports, "The Iraqi authorities in the self-ruled northern region of Kurdistan are gearing up to face a possible cholera outbreak which last year affected nearly 4,200 people, and caused the deaths of 24 nationwide, a local official said on 6 May."

Turning to US politics. 1972's BIG FAILURE George McGovern -- who stabbed women in the back at the Miami Convention -- wasn't content with undercutting Hillary Clinton's historic run while chatting with Movement types on Democracy Now! back in March,
he's now come out and endorsed Barack Obama. The tired, old, sexist fool has switched from Hillary to Barack. So let's revisit the March 11th broadcast of Democracy Now! but since we don't link to trash, we won't link to the program. Ava and I noted it in real time:

For those not old enough to remember, McGovern can't stand up. Never has been able to and many women suffer the war wounds from Miami 1972 to this day when he demonstrated just how craven he could be.So there was McGovern, who endorsed Hillary Clinton for the presidential nomination of the Democratic Party, gushing over Barack. He would offer excuses that he endorsed early ("Well, I endorsed Hillary last October"). He would say he only endorsed out of friendship. He would claim he couldn't take back an endorsement. In fact, that exchange ran like this:GEORGE McGOVERN: I would stay with Hillary. I don't change my mind on things like this in the middle of the battle. I made the decision to back her, and I'll stay with her. I don't want to be jumping around from one candidate to another. And as I said, we've got two excellent candidates here, both well qualified. And I'll be out campaigning for whichever one wins. Am I ducking your question? Yes. AMY GOODMAN: Why? GEORGE McGOVERN: Because I want to stay with the person I chose six months ago. "I would stay with Hillary," Liar and Loser McGovern declared. "I don't want to be jumping around from one candidate to another." If today's stab in the back surprises you, you never heard the truth about Miami (Amy Goodman certainly never told it) or McGovern's long list of back stabbing moves which most publicly included throwing Thomas Eagleton under the bus after stating he would stand by his running mate. McGovern couldn't stand up in 1972 and he can't stand up today as he zooms closer and closer to 90. What is he? A loser. His margins in the popular vote (he got 38%) would probably echo Barack's should Barack become the nominee. In the Electoral College he got 17 votes and, again, that will probably echo Barack's total should he become the nominee. Most importantly, the loser McGovern getting the nomination created "Democrats For Nixon" and don't be surprised, should McGovern's choice of the moment (Barack) get the nomination if you don't see "Democrats For McCain."

Yesterday Indiana and North Carolina held primaries.
Lauren Lafaro (Politcker) shows more sense than most of her peers: "Now that Sens. Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton have split Indiana and North Carolina, Oregon can be assured that it will receive attention." And that's the reality. One state was won by each. But it's time for all the fringe elements (some of whom are Democrats and many of whom are not) to begin their cry of "Hillary must drop out!" yet again. The candidate just won Indiana. There's no reason to drop out. Neither candidate will end the primary races with enough delegates awarded to have a lock on the nomination. Hillary states: "Today, in every way that I know how, I am expressing my personal determination to keep forging forward in this campaign." That's a fighter. And the campaign's working in West Virginia on getting out the vote which includes dairy farmers Ed King and Roxaina Hurlburt giving their time to the campaign, traveling from their homes in New York, to explain why Hillary's the candidate for farmers and for all Americans. Meanwhile the faux candidate Barack had a faux event and Uppity Woman (No Quarter) provides the photos

Tuesday, May 06, 2008

McKinney has until Friday and then I'm done

Let me start off by noting that Cynthia McKinney may be pulled from my links on Friday.

C.I. was including that in the snapshot today. We all got a copy of that section. It was hard-hitting, it was funny. It got pulled because Jim begged for it to be the topic for the editorial at Third. I think it should have been left in. I know it left a huge hole in the snapshot that C.I. then had to fill (and do so quickly). But I'll note that if McKinney has not announced by Friday that she is running for president and not 5% of the vote, she's pulled from links and that's going to be across the board. No one has time for vanity campaigns. If you're not running to become president, we don't have time for you.

"HUBdate: Election Day" (Howard Wolfson,
Energized: Hillary "had been campaigning for more than 16 hours when she strode onto the stage at Evansville Central High School just before 11 p.m....But Clinton betrayed barely a hint of fatigue as she beamed at a crowd of screaming supporters at the high school. 'This campaign has been a joy,' she said...Clinton has brought a new zeal to the trail in recent weeks that she shows no signs of abandoning." Read more.
By the Numbers: "The latest Ipsos poll conducted over the weekend shows that on the eve of the Indiana and North Carolina primaries, Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton has taken over the lead in popular support from Democrats nationally (47-40)." Less than two weeks ago, Ipsos showed Sen. Obama leading nationally.
Read more.
If You Watch One Thing: "Democratic presidential contender Hillary Clinton appeared on Monday on the 'Late Show with David Letterman' to deliver the 'Top 10' reasons she loves America, which included the ability to order her trademark pantsuits around the clock on the Internet."
Watch here. Read more.
Why I Support Hillary: General Hugh Shelton, former Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff on why he supports Hillary: "We need a president who will end this war honorably...Clinton is the best person for the huge challenge we still face in Iraq...[she] has gotten to know our military during her time as first lady and as a member of the Senate Armed Services Committee...She understands the impact of endless commitments on the service families who also serve our country...After five years, we now have the opportunity to bring this war to an honorable end, with Sen. Clinton as our next commander-in-chief."
Read more.
Sen. Obama's Attacks Debunked: "Obama is wrong about the gas tax: Think Clinton's plan to suspend the gas tax temporarily is a bad idea? A similar measure in Illinois -- which Obama backed -- seems to have helped consumers."
Read more.
"Illuminating, Inspiring" A Charleston Gazette op-ed describes how "Hillary Clinton's performance on the Senate Armed Services Committee demonstrates her deep desire to know everything necessary to lead this country in difficult, even dangerous, times."
Read more.
Clinton Is Right For Democrats: The Bend Bulletin endorsed Hillary yesterday: "[S]he is a candidate of proven substance. Even if you discount the value of her eight years as first lady -- which, if nothing else, familiarized her with the position she seeks -- her Senate tenure has been more than twice as long as Obama's... this country would be better off under the leadership of a pragmatic realist than a celebrity politician whose legislative record, such as it is, contradicts his oratory. In any case, she'd probably be more likely than Obama to defeat McCain in November."

Hillary is running for the Democratic nomination and, if she gets it, she won't be running kind-of, sort-of. She'll run strong the way she's done during the debates. She's fighting for the nomination. Cynthia McKinney is presumed to be the Green Party nominee (though that could change) and all she wants out of the 2008 general election is 5% of the vote.

You get in an election to win. If you're not running to win, why are you in it? Want to make a statement? Put it on a t-shirt.

Equally true is that everyone's sick of the faux Greens like Norman Solomon (he voted for Nader in 1996 and 2000) and Ted Glick thinking they can slime Hillary and advance Obama. Don't you have your own primary to worry about?

C.I. had a hilarious thing in the section pulled from the snapshot about Glick's weak ass campaign to be the Senator of New Jersey . . . funded by his family and people from outside of New Jersey. If that's who Cynthia's going to have for a campaign spokesperson, she's going to be in a lot of trouble.

It all erupted late last night when Ty read and replied to an e-mail. Ty was offended by a White woman who is a supposed Green pushing herself into the Democratic primary. First with a ridiculous (and insulting -- it ticked Betty off as well) column on "I have discovered racism!" There are a lot of White people who fail to grasp that sort of sop does not win over African-Americans. Then the White woman -- remember she's supposed to be a Green -- decided to post an attack on Sidney Blumenthal. Or repost actually.

We don't have time for that crap. If you're a Green, quit trying to get Obama elected. But of course that's what's really at stake here, the Green Party leaders are stabbing their members in the back (which is what pisses of Jess) by pushing another fake election (running for the ultimate prize of "5%" is a fake) while they really try to influence the Democratic primary and then election.

As C.I. pointed out in the pulled section, there's a reason Ralph Nader doesn't seek the Green Party nomination. It would be so much easier for him (in terms of ballot access) if he did. But he's grasped that the leadership in that party will undercut any presidential campaign because they'd rather be the Democratic Party's Little Sister and not a real national party.

The pulled section contained a lot about Ralph and he's not even in the snapshot now. I'm sure C.I. will put him later in the week but I know C.I. had to be ticked (not mad at Jim but mad at all the time wasted). Let me talk about that because I don't think Jim really gets the time that goes into something like this.

When Ty and Jess got pissed last night at the nonsense, Jess immediately began contacting Green Party community members to make sure they were on the same page. They were. As a result when Jess heard from the last ones, C.I. added a note to one of the morning's entries. Then C.I. had to contact all of us to make sure we were okay with it being addressed in the snapshot. We were. Then, because C.I. didn't want to cause any problems for any of us, C.I. had to write that section and get it sent out. Now all of this is happening between speaking engagements today. Add in that the snapshot itself still hasn't been dicated.

So we all sign off and it's at that point that Jim says it should be a Third topic. C.I. is not mad at Jim. But I know C.I. has to be ticked that so much time was used today on something that, in the end, got pulled from the snapshot at the last minute and left a hole that had to be immediately filled. When Jim asks for something to be held, I don't think he gets that it creates a hole and that, in today's case, it means several hours down the drain.

If you're a Green running for local or state office, I have no problem noting you but the party appears to be caving already, before the primaries are over. I wouldn't have noted them in the 2004 race with their ridiculous 'presidential' candidate that only wanted to run in 'safe states'. I would have noted Ralph because he was running to win.

So, as I said, Cynthia McKinney has until the end of the week to make it clear that she's running for the presidency and not just 5% of the votes. If she doesn't, I'm not interested in that campaign. Not in the primary, not in the general election. Should she lose the primary to someone, say Kent Mesplay, and that person is going to run a real campaign (or do their best trying to), I'm happy to note them.

"Iraq snapshot" (The Common Ills):
Tuesday, May 6, 2008. Chaos and violence continue, Jim Moran shows he grasps the VA duties better than those in leadership at the VA do, veterans suicides gets some attention in Congress, Helen Thomas questions Perino and more.

Starting with war resistance.
Claudia Parson (Reuters) reports on Iraq Veterans Against the War's Eli Wright who awaits "a medical discharge for post traumatic stress disorder and a shoulder injury" and has added to his tattoo collection "a black paper clip on his right hand." From Different Drummer Cafe, Wright explains, "During Vietnam, guys that were against the war would wear a paper clip on their uniform somewhere, it was a little way for them to identify themselves. It stands for People Against People Ever Re-enlisting -- Civilian Life is Preferred. We decided instead of just ewaring paper clips, we would actually tattoo them, a permanent reminder of our dedication to getting out."

March 14th, Wright testified at IVAW's Winter Soldier on the experience of health care and cautioned veterans, "Don't keep it quiet," demand the health care you've been promised. Vet health care will be a later topic this snapshot but if you missed Winter Soldier you can stream it online at IVAW's Winter Solider page (audio or video). You can also stream audio at War Comes Home, at KPFK, at the Pacifica Radio homepage and at KPFA, here for Friday, here for Saturday, here for Sunday. Aimee Allison (co-host of the station's The Morning Show and co-author with David Solnit of Army Of None) and Aaron Glantz were the anchors for Pacifica's live coverage. Allison and Glantz also hosted KPFA's live coverage April 22nd on the lawsuit against the Veterans Administration.

In Canada, war resisters are hoping the Parliament will take action on a motion waiting to be debated. Currently, you can utilize the following e-mails to show your support: Prime Minister Stephen Harper ( -- that's pm at who is with the Conservative party and these two Liberals, Stephane Dion ( -- that's Dion.S at who is the leader of the Liberal Party and Maurizio Bevilacqua ( -- that's Bevilacqua.M at who is the Liberal Party's Critic for Citizenship and Immigration. In addition Jack Layton, NDP leader, has a contact form and they would like to hear from people as well. A few more addresses can be found here at War Resisters Support Campaign. For those in the US, Courage to Resist has an online form that's very easy to use.
There is a growing movement of resistance within the US military which includes Matt Mishler, Josh Randall, Robby Keller, Justiniano Rodrigues, Chuck Wiley, James Stepp, Rodney Watson, Michael Espinal, Matthew Lowell, Derek Hess, Diedra Cobb,
Brad McCall, Justin Cliburn, Timothy Richard, Robert Weiss, Phil McDowell, Steve Yoczik, Ross Spears, Peter Brown, Bethany "Skylar" James, Zamesha Dominique, Chrisopther Scott Magaoay, Jared Hood, James Burmeister, Jose Vasquez, Eli Israel, Joshua Key, Ehren Watada, Terri Johnson, Clara Gomez, Luke Kamunen, Leif Kamunen, Leo Kamunen, Camilo Mejia, Kimberly Rivera, Dean Walcott, Linjamin Mull, Agustin Aguayo, Justin Colby, Marc Train, Abdullah Webster, Robert Zabala, Darrell Anderson, Kyle Snyder, Corey Glass, Jeremy Hinzman, Kevin Lee, Mark Wilkerson, Patrick Hart, Ricky Clousing, Ivan Brobeck, Aidan Delgado, Pablo Paredes, Carl Webb, Stephen Funk, Blake LeMoine, Clifton Hicks, David Sanders, Dan Felushko, Brandon Hughey, Logan Laituri, Jason Marek, Clifford Cornell, Joshua Despain, Joshua Casteel, Katherine Jashinski, Dale Bartell, Chris Teske, Matt Lowell, Jimmy Massey, Chris Capps, Tim Richard, Hart Viges, Michael Blake, Christopher Mogwai, Christian Kjar, Kyle Huwer, Wilfredo Torres, Michael Sudbury, Ghanim Khalil, Vincent La Volpa, DeShawn Reed and Kevin Benderman. In total, at least fifty 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 [(877) 447-4487], 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. In addition, VETWOW is an organization that assists those suffering from MST (Military Sexual Trauma).

Today the US House Committee on Veterans' Affairs held a hearing entitled "The Truth About Veterans' Suicides." Among those questioned by the committee were the Sec of the Dept of Veterans Affairs James Peake, Deputy Under Secretary for Health, Veterans Health Administration Gerald Cross, the VA's Dr. Iraq Katz, the University of Georgia's Stephen L Rathbun, Texas Tech's M. David Rudd, University of South Carolina's Ronald Maris and, from the Inspector General's office, Dr. Michael Shepherd.

US House Rep Bob Filner chairs the committee and noted in his opening statements, "On December 12, 2007, this Committee held a hearing entitled 'Stopping Suicides: Mental Health Challenges within the Department of Veterans Affairs.' Nearly five months later, we are again holding a hearing on the tragic issue of suicide among our veterans and what the VA is doing to address what is clearly an epidemic. In November of last year, CBS News aired a story entitled
'Suicide Epidemic Among Veterans.' On April 21, 2008, CBS News aired a story 'VA Hid Suicide Risk, Internal E-mails Show.' The first step in addressing a problem is to understand the scope and extent of the problem. In the case of the VA and the epidemic of veteran suicides, either the VA has not adequately attempted to determine the scope of the problem, which is an idictment of the VA's basic competence, or the VA knows the extent of the problem, but has attempted to obfuscate and minimize the problem to veterans, Congress, and the American people, which is an indictment of the leadership of the entire Department. In December, Dr. Katz, in testimony before this Committee, stressed a low-rate veteran suicide, stating that 'from the beginning of the war through the end of 2005 there were 144 known suicides among these new veterans.' In responding to the figures used by CBS, Dr. Katz stated that 'their number for veteran suicides is not, in fact, an accurate reflection of the rates of suicide'."

The reports Filner references were done by
CBS Evening News and Armen Keteyian was the reporter and Pia Malbran the producer for both reports. CBS obtained (for the April report) an e-mail (warning PDF format) that Katz had sent out stating that "our suicide prevention coordinators are identifying about 1,000 suicide attempts per month among that veterans we see in our medical facialities" which was considerably higher than the less than a thousand suicides (790) per year that the VA had insisted to CBS was the accurate number. In addition, the e-mail opens with "Sh!" and is entitled "Not for the CBS News interview segment." The e-mail was sent to the VA's chief communications director, Ev Chasen, who replied, "I think this is something we should discuss among ourselves, before issuing a release. Is the fact that we're stopping them good news, or is the sheer number bad news? And is this more than we've ever seen before? It might be something we drop into a general release about suicide prevention efforts, which (as you know far better than I) prominently include training employees to recognize the warning signs of suicide." Kats replies back, "I want to wait until Jan gets back from leave and then plan talking points with her."

Speaking for the VA, Peake attempted to bore the world with a lecture on suicide, its history, its measurements. Well into his opening remarks he admitted something truly appalling that some may miss: "Until VA committed itself last year to providing full time suicide prevention coordinators at each of its 153 hospitals, it could provide no useful number of attempted suicides among patients." Suicide is epidemic for Iraq and Afghanistan wars, no question. But suicide is also a serious isssue for veterans period. That's Vietnam, that's Korea, that's . . . The idea that until 2007 the VA was not staffing each VA hospital with a full time suicide prevention coordinator is appalling. And, as Dr. Ronald Maris would later point out, this is just VA hospitals, it doesn't include the 875 VA Community-Based Outpatient Clinics. Maris noted [paraphrase on at least two words]:

Thus the vast majority of VA facilities in fact do not have suicide coordinators. Several questions remain. What do these coordinators do, exactly? How are they trained to do suicide assement and prevention ? What are their professional credentials and licensing? Who supervises these suicide coordinators? Do suicide coordinators interact directly with suicidal vets in clinical care of the VA? What exactly are they coordinating?

Maris points would come after Peake was done. During his testimony, Peake cited the e-mail CBS got hold of from Katz and attempted to state that due that the lack of full time coordinators (apparently until October) resulted in the data having only been compiled for "three months" which he maintained was "too short a time period to determine if it was reliable." For that reason, Peake stated, "The data was not sent to CBS". He identifes that as one of Katz' "concerns" but that's not in the e-mail. Peake's inventing a cover story after the fact. Katz' e-mails reflect that he does not the want the number getting out. There is nothing about the time period the figures are being pulled from. He then tries to question the numbers themselves stating that people were still learning -- full time suicide prevention coordinators are still learning? On the tax payer dime? Was the VA unable to find qualified people to fill the positions because, if so, that should be the subject of another committee hearing.

He claims that "borderline calls" were being included. Despite his lengthy lecture on sucides at the beginning of his remarks, he didn't define that term. But presumably a "borderline call" would be included by most studying suicide.

Peake needs to resign. He needs to resign effective immediately and the VA needs to apologize. That's for what he then launched into. Peake announced that the VA, as part of their efforts, "intends to ask suicide prevention coordinators for the names of all those in their facility who have attempted suicide." The VA has regularly and repeatedly lost computers, accidentally disclosed private information to the public and a host of other issues. Is Peake such an idiot that he doesn't grasp that his little bit of information will likely result in at least some (possibly many) who need help deciding to forgoe out of fear that they'll be on some list that will follow them around -- follow them around outside of the VA?

Peake then wanted to play with the data (Dr. Stephen L Rathbun's testimony refuted Peake's nonsense so we won't even go into it) and shade the issue before launching into what the VA's doing. What is the VA doing? Not a damn thing to be proud of and a hell of a lot to be ashamed of. Peake spoke of the "two National VA Suicide Prevention Awareness Days" -- one of which piggy-backed on the National Suicide Prevention Awareness Week. The same way that 'their' hotline piggy backs on the National Suicide Hotline (already set up). Peake revealed that callers who press "1" (we went over this before) are immediately taken to a separate call center because they are veterans (no, they are not always taken there) and that they then receive help from "mental health professionals . . . trained in both crisis intervention strategies and in issues" such as PTSD and TBI. He goes on to reveal something else and again this DOES NOT encourage veterans to call. If the veteran has a VA record and gives out his or her information, the 'operator' is pulling up their information and putting "consults in the patient's medical record," etc. That's not how the National Suicide Hotline works. They guarantee confidientiality and since the VA has -- to save money -- piggy-backed on their efforts, they should follow the same system. That they aren't is misleading and hurts veterans as well as the National Suicide Hotline. Is it really the place of some 'operator' to, as Peake says they do, "check patient's records to see if consultations were completed; actions are taken; and follow-ups are ongoing"?

It's past time for the press to stop treating the VA as its own little island. Doctors and counselors working in suicide prevention can tell you (loudly) that the hodge-podge system Peake's speaking of does not encourage those in need to reach out and that, again, it will actually harm the National Sucide Hot Line because people will confuse the two and assume they are being put (with their names) on some national list if they call (I'm referring to civilians). What is the VA doing? Not a damn thing. Peake spoke of posters! Posters! Wow, what is this third grade? And MTV's doing a video! This is a disgrace and the resignations from all in leadership at the VA should be turned in immediately. They repeatedly refuse to address this problem and any tiny steps they take are done on the cheap (and in such a way that it puts veterans and civilians at risk). This is shameful.

Texas Tech's Dr. M. David Rudd spoke of the illness and noted, "The tragic increase in both active duty and veteran suicide rates since the beginning of Operation Iraqi Freedom and Operation Enduring Freedome (OIF/OEF) underscores a seldom recognized but very real fact about mental illness; that it can be fatal." From Dr. Ronald Maris, we'll zoom in on this:One reason I cannot answer definitely about what causes veteran suicides is that the Office of Veteran Affairs has not provided me or the courts crucial data that are needed. For example, each time there is a military death, suicide attempt, or other serious incident, the VA produces a short 'incident brief' which summarily describes the suicide or suicide attempt. Then about 45 days later each incident undergoes what is called a 'root cause anaylsis' and a three-page report is generated. On April 22, 2008, when I was an expert for the plaintiff in the Veterans v. Peake trial in San Francisco, I was given only 170 of the estimated 15,000 incident briefs and none of the root cause analyses. Clearly these VA documents could go a long way in establishing what causes veteran suicides and whether or not there is an epidemic. It seems that these personal, clinical documents could be redacted, with patients' names and other indentifying information removed, and then supplied to independent scientific investigators, like myself."

US House Rep Jim Moran spoke to the committee about the need for a suicide hotline for veterans -- not piggy backing off an existing hotline. He noted the Veterans Suicide Prevention Hotline Act and how it would be "a stand-alone 24-hour national toll-free hotline" which "would be staffed by veterans, trained to appropriately and responsibly answer calls from other veterans." Moran grasped the fact that there is a stigma still associated with suicide or even asking for help. He grasps that fear "of potential job-related consequences keep many active duty soldiers and recent veterans from seeking the care they need." And he grasps the need for those seeking help to fill that the person on the other end of the line has "a real-life perspective of what's happening." In short, Moran's more on the ball than all the VA staff trotted out before Congress.

We can return to the hearing tomorrow (or later in the week) because there's enough to make the hearing alone the entire snapshot. Instead, we'll move on by noting that, at the White House today, press flack Dana Perino expressed her firmly held spin that "the President has full confidence in Secretary Peake and believes that he is handling it appropriately." It? The VA or maybe accusations. She also firmly spun that "Secretary Peake answered those [accusations] today" but when pressed on what his answer was she stated "nobody was covering it, so I wasn't able to see it directly." But by osmosis, Dana Perino just knows the accusations were answered.

Perino was also asked about the Iraq War supplemental the US Congress is currently working on and, in one of the more laugh inducing moments, she denied that the Bully Boy was in denial about the economy. Perino denied that Bully Boy was in denial. Sort of like the cereal box with the picture of the cereal box on it with the picture of the cereal box with the picture of the cereal . . .

The Iraq War supplemental?
Carl Hulse (New York Times) reported this morning that House Democratic leadership intends to include -- among other measures -- in the House bill a call for 'significant' withdrawals of US troops in Iraq by December 2009; however, they expect it to be stripped out in the US Senate's version of the bill. Richard Cowan (Reuters) reports, "Democratic leaders in the House of Representatives have agreed on a plan to fund the Iraq war into next year but included a provision to withdraw combat troops by the end of 2009, lawmakers said on Tuesday. The plan for supporting the approximately $170 billion request from President George W. Bush to fight wars in Iraq and Afghanistan also would expand education benefits for war veterans and give more help to the long-term U.S. unemployed." Anne Flaherty (AP) notes, "The bill also includes a mandate that the president negotiate an agreement with Baghdad to subsidize the U.S. miltiary's fuel costs so troops operationg in Iraq aren't paying any more than Iraqi citizens are" and a prohibition on US dollars for reconstruction "unless Baghdad matches every dollar spent".

Meanwhile the assault on Sadr City continues in Iraq.
Helen Thomas questioned Perino about that today.

Helen Thomas: Yesterday,
according to the New York Times, we dropped a bomb on a home in Sadr City and burned alive a pregnant woman and her children. How long is the siege of Sadr? How long are we going to keep bombing Iraqis?

Dana Perino: Well, I'm not aware of that particular report. I have not -- I've not seen it.

Helent Thomas: Well it was pretty buried in the story.

Dana Perino: Okay. Well the operation against the militias in Sadr City will continue until they root them out. And that is expressly in order to protect people like you just mentioned.

Helen Thomas: Root who out? Iraqis? In their own country?

Dana Perino: It is Prime Minister Maliki's government which is going after the militia, which is appropriate.

Really? Because
Alissa J. Rubin (New York Times) offers different terminology calling them "American strikes on Shiite fighters" in today's paper.


Hussein Kadhim (McClatchy Newspapers) reports 2 Baghdad mortar attacks that claimed 3 lives and left twelve people wounded, 2 Baghdad missile attacks that wounded ten people, a Diyala Province roadside bombing that claimed the life of 1 "Awakening" Council member and left another wounded, a Tikrit car bombing that claimed 2 lives and left twenty-six people wounded and a Mosul roadside bombing that claimed the life of 1 police officer.


Hussein Kadhim (McClatchy Newspapers) reports Baghdad armed clashes resulted in 3 deaths and nine people wounded and an armed clash in Mosul that claimed the lives of 2 police officers with one more wounded.


Hussein Kadhim (McClatchy Newspapers) reports 3 corpses discovered in Baghdad.

On NPR's Morning Edition, Guy Raz reported (text and audio) the lastest on the military's use of "counter-insurgency." To back up, "counter-insurgency" is attacking and tricking civilians and, once upon a time, it was seen as something to be called out. But note the 60s Peace Train hopping on board Bambi For Prez -- alleged 'peace warriors' -- who repeatedly ignore Barack's own ties to counter-insurgency. Raz reports today that the Pentagon is now worried that too much focus has been placed on 'counter-insurgency' in Iraq and not engough on training "to fight conventional battles". Lt Col Gian Gentile is quoted (from a lecture he gave) stating, "Due to five years in Iraq and six years in Afghanistan, I believe that the U.S. Army has become a counterinsurgency-only force. . . . The high public profile of the new counterinsurgency manual, combined with the perception that its use and practice with the surge in Iraq has lowered the violence, I think has had a Svengali effect on us."

But don't worry, crap-ass outlets like 'Voters For Peace,' like a number of aging hippies, have other things to focus on than the actual Iraq War. As long as they can pretend they care enough for some people to believe that they do, that's fine and dandy. They damn well knows what 'counter-insurgency' is and damn well decried its use during Vietnam. Today? It's ignore it and hop on board the corporate and psuedo peace train. Take Tom-Tom Hayden (forever on the outside) whinging at Aged Socialite's Cat Mix on March 18th that Barack "failed to dissociate from the grim counterinsurgency war envisioned by Gen. Petraeus" in a fifth anniversary speech he gave. Like self-loathing lesbian Laura Flanders calling for Barack to break with Richard Dailey over torture, Tom-Tom has to pretend that Barack could make the break, as though Barack hasn't stacked his adivsors with the ones who approve and wrote the Army's 'counter-insurgency' manual.

On September 12, 2007,
Matt Lehrich posted (at Barack's website) a rave about Sarah Sewall (aka Sarah Sewer) and Sammy Get The Axe Power noting that not only were they two of Bambi's foreign policy advisors but they were selling Bambi via a conference call with bloggers. (And you wonder how so many idiots could defend War Hawk Power online when her trashing of Hillary Clinton and Gordon Brown as well as her revealing that Barack's Iraq "promises" were empty to the BBC.) Sammy just blurbed the manual (and believed in it), Sarah Sewer offered so much and was in charge of it. That would be the same Sarah Sewer who declared on PBS' The Charlie Rose Show, on the last week of 2007, that the US must not, cannot, see the Iraq War as a failure because it would prevent future interventions. As Ava and I noted last December of the interview:

Sewer came close to unhinging in public when she went into rapid-fire mode, spitting out sentences about the failure of states, her desire to create "a strong, international force," how the illegal war must not be seen "as a failure" and her "concern" that, if Iraq is seen as a failure, "we'll move towards isolationism" or, worse, send in the military to "strike him and get out" (as opposed to occupying -- and "him" wasn't identified by the War Pig). That truly does concern Sewer because her whole existence, her belief system such as it is, is rooted in the notion that she, and only she, possess the wisdom to decide. She's a hairy-legged version of the Bully Boy with better vocab.

These are the War Hawks Barack selected. But don't worry, your 'peace' 'leaders' won't bother you with those realities, they're far too busy lying to get Barack into office. Equally true is just as Judith Miller's past includes The Progressive, Sarah Sewall's includes the Institute of Policy Studies and, no, IPS hasn't called out Sewall. In fact, IPS hasn't addressed the issue of 'counter-insurgency' at all. (The organization.
Phyllis Bennis has addressed it and has addressed it as applied to Barack. And we've noted that before. She's addressed it as an individual. IPS, the organization, has remained silent.)

Yesterday Brian Montopoli (CBS News) reported:On a conference call with reporters this morning, the Clinton campaign knocked Barack Obama over a report in the Wall Street Journal today that Obama "won the endorsement of the Teamsters earlier this year after privately telling the union he supported ending the strict federal oversight imposed to root out corruption."Clinton has not taken a position on oversight of the Teamsters, and, as the Journal notes, Obama's stance is unusual, as "[p]olicy makers have largely treated monitoring of the International Brotherhood of Teamsters as a legal matter left to the Justice Department since an independent review board was set up in 1992 to eliminate mob influence in the union."

Green Change reposts Brody Mullins and Kris Maher's Wall St. Journal article which opens: "Sen. Barack Obama won the endorsement of the Teamsters earlier this year after privately telling the union he supported ending the strict federal oversight imposed to root out corruption, according to officials from the union and the Obama campaign." Well thank goodness RFK's children didn't embarrass themselves endorsing Barack. Too bad other members of the Kennedy clan can't say the same.

Yesterday's snapshot noted this: "Jeralyn (TalkLeft) highlights his new ad attacking Hillary Clinton -- both are running for the Democratic Party's presidential nomination -- and he says 'I approved this message' at the end. So he's responsible for its accuracy." Jake Tapper (ABC News) notes that the ad doesn't quote correctly from a column by Paul Krugman. Tapper also steers to Paul Krugman's comment on the distortion: "I did not say that the Clinton proposal would increase oil industry profits. If the ad implies that I did, it should be retracted."

today's HUBdate (Clinton campaign): "Democratic presidential contender Hillary Clinton appeared on Monday on the 'Late Show with David Letterman' to deliver the 'Top 10' reasons she loves America, which included the ability to order her trademark pantsuits around the clock on the Internet." Watch here. Read more.

aaron glantz

mcclatchy newspapers