Monthly Archives: April 2007

The Pain of John McCain

I’ve always had the highest respect for Senator John McCain, despite disagreeing with most of his social and political views. He often reminded me of Senator Barry Goldwater, whose political philosophy was diametrically opposed to my own. Goldwater was the type of person who openly and bluntly expressed himself regardless of what voters thought about his comments. He believed one should speak his mind in the marketplace of ideas and allow the American people to select from among a variety of opinions. He never hesitated to say something because it would cost votes. In fact, many observers believed he’d rather lose a vote than cater to public opinion.

Where have you gone Senator Goldwater now that your party and nation needs your honesty? For a moment, many believed John McCain personified Goldwater’s commitment to honesty in politics. Many believed McCain would stand against Bush’s ideas on torture and violation of the Geneva Convention. It is now quite clear McCain is no Goldwater. Barry Goldwater would rather be right than be president. John McCain will kiss anyone’s ass in order to become president. Goldwater loved and respected the Constitution; McCain will sell out his beliefs in the Constitution to gain votes.

How could can individual whose body endured terrible treatment at the hands of North Vietnam captors who lacked respect for the Geneva Convention support Bush’s blatant violation of Geneva Convention provisions that protect the dignity of men captured in battle? I am certain during the horrendous hours being brutalized, McCain wished his captors would support ideals of the Geneva Convention. John McCain might argue he tried to mitigate the severity of Bush’s “alternative interrogation techniques,” but either we have rules or we don’t. McCain is ready to play the “torture card” just like Republicans have played the “race card” for thirty years.

McCain’s recent behavior only adds to the disrespect for himself that is emerging. One does not run for the presidency and make jokes about bombing nations. Funny songs belong at a fraternity party, not on a campaign trail. We have always known right wing Republicans will say or do anything in order to win an election. We thought better of you Senator McCain. Now it is quite clear you will abandon any principle or moral value in order to win the presidency.

There is a scene in the George Bernard Shaw play, “Major Barbara,” in which Salvation Army leaders accept money from liquor interest and arm manufacturers on grounds that the better good is served by receiving money from men who oppose every Salvation Army value. A cynical character in the play quietly asks Salvation Army leaders, “What price salvation now, what price salvation?” Senator McCain, is it worth selling your soul to become president? One last question, Senator McCain, “What would Barry Goldwater have told George Bush about his idea to abandon the Geneva Convention?” Ah yes, Senator McCain, what price salvation now?

Riga Cardinal Denounces Gays

Cardinal Janis Pujats, head of the Latvian Catholic Church recently attacked members of Parliament who proposed legislation that would offer protection to gays. The Cardinal is upset at laws that would foster tolerance and respect for the dignity of gays or any other sexual minority.
Information from Baltic Times

I can never comprehend how a leader of any religious group could preach hatred toward humans. My mind is disjointed when I read such stuff from a church leader. But, then again, if one studies the Holocaust it is all too apparent how many church leaders simply ignore human brutality as they preach in church about love of Jesus Christ. I am 100% convinced Jesus was on the side of ALL humans.

Malta Supports Gay Rights

Justice Gina Camillieri of Malta ordered marriage bans for a person who was born as a man but who had his sex switched by a surgical procedure. Home Affairs Minister Carmelo Bonnici agreed to enforce the judge’s decision.

Chile Police Chief Promises Investigation of Gay Police Attacks

Jorge Rojas, head of Chile’s police force for western Santiago promised to investigate charges that police have been attacking gays. According to the Movement for Homosexual Integration and Freedom (MOVILH) police recently entered a night club and began beating up gays. A man heard a policeman say: “You are the scum of society, you two weren’t born, your mothers shit you out.” The two men were arrested, taken to the police station, and again beat. Interior Minister Jimenez believes that while top level police leaders are urging respect for gays, “the lower ranked police who violate this principle have not been punished. This can’t continue.”
Information from The Santiago Times

It is traditional in most Latin American societies for police and lower rank army personnel to be drawn from rural areas where people are extremely conservative in their social values. This often translates into a divergence in views between the better educated urban elite police and army leaders and men in the lower ranks.

Darfur Refugees in England Threatened With Deportation

The Home Office in England is determined to tighten up immigration policies as part of the response against terrorism. It now insists that refugees who fled the horror of Darfur will be perfectly safe if returned to Khartoum. Mohammed Abdulhadi Ali, who watched his relatives slaughtered and his village burned to the ground, doesn’t quite agree with the Home Office. “When I came to Britain I hoped I would be safe. Now, they would like to send me back. If I go back to Khartoum I definitely will be killed. I belong to the Zaghawa tribe and that is enough to be killed.” Labor MP Glenys Kinnock argued in Commons that returning refugees is “morally wrong and unacceptable.” A Home Office spokeswoman said, “All applications for asylum are examined with great care. While we will not remove anyone who we believe is at risk on their return, we have made it clear that we will take a robust approach to removing those whom the asylum decision making and independent appeals processes have found do not need international protection.”

Am I living on the same planet as the Home Office of England? What do they think is happening in Darfur? Over 200,000 people are dead!

Racist Crime Rarely Convicted in Finland

Finland during the past decade has witnessed an influx of diverse people resulting in an increase of racist activities. In a recent study of 669 racist crimes identified in 2005, only twenty-five people were convicted, resulting in twelve people receiving fines. The majority of racist crimes reported are assaults on people, vandalism, defamation and threats. Seven out of ten racist crimes occur against foreigners and 85% of those instituting racist crimes are males between the ages of 15-24. Over half of crimes take place in southern Finland around Helsinki, which is where immigrants are living. Ten percent of crimes are against members of the Roma (gypsy) minority.

This survey indicates the overwhelming majority of racist crimes in Finland never result in prosecution. One can surmise that people subject to racist attacks in Finland feel unsure about resorting to courts, which represent in their minds the government.

2007 Budget for the Veterans Administration

  • Reduces expenditures for Psychiatric Care
  • Reduces expenditures for Residential Care
  • Reduces expenditures for research in: Aging, Cancer, Kidney diseases, Diabetes, Lung disorders, Heart disease, and Digestive diseases

Washington State Bill Protects Veterans

State Senator Steve Hobbs, a DEMOCRAT, who already has served in Iraq for several months, introduced a bill in the State Senate of Washington that would add “honorably discharged veterans or military status” to a state law that already bans discrimination in housing, employment and insurance based on race, gender, age, sexual orientation, marital status, disability or religion.

Isn’t it interesting that so-called “patriotic” right wingers have said nothing and done nothing to protect members of the armed forces from being abused and dehumanized.

Reservist Fired from Job

An Air Force nursing reservist filed a lawsuit against Sutter Health claiming she was fired from her job as an administrator with the hospital because she was deployed to Iraq. Lt. Col. Debra Muhl was told she was fired after informing her superiors in December, 2005, that her tour of duty was to being the following March. The company claimed the firing was for budgetary reasons.

Officers Get More and Higher Disability Payments

All branches of the armed forces grant officers rating of 50% or higher than enlisted personnel. The Military Times dug through five years of reports from the Department of Dense Office of the Actuay and discovered the average payment for a disabled Air Force officer in 2005 was $2,604 a month, about $6000 more than the Army’s average. For enlisted airmen, the average payment was $926 per month compared to an average of about $770 for enlisted soldiers. Enlisted Marines averaged $753 per month.

The higher percent a wounded soldier is rated, the higher is the rate of disability payment. The proportion of officers who received disability retirement ratings of 50% or more—resulting in higher retirement checks – significantly outpaced the percentage of enlisted men who received similar ratings. It appears officers know how to work the system and get higher benefits. But, it is also apparent there is a systematic bias in favor of officers who get wounded – they will wind up being judged to have a higher rate of disability which guarantees more disability payments. General Richard Cody, Vice Chief of Staff of the Army told a congressional hearing: “At the end of the day, it looks unfair, and quite frankly, we’re being stingy as a nation.”

A startling finding by the Military Times reveals that while 5,500 MORE soldiers went through the disability system in 2005 than in 2001 (before any war or fighting) only 79 more soldiers were awarded a permanent disability rating. General Cody cited the case of Sgt. Michael Pinero who is going blind but was only awarded a 10% disability rating. Ron Smith, deputy general counsel for Disabled American Veterans cites the case of a soldier who lost use of an arm and received a disability based on a different ailment.

Thank God that Democrats gained control of Congress this year. Several committees are now at work to deal with these inequities.