Tag Archives: congress

John McCain Palinates On Gay Rights!

Once upon a time there was a bright young man who was filled with moral outrage at the use of torture since he had been subjected to an incredibly difficult time while in a Vietnam prison. Once upon a time John McCain stood against the crowd and was willing to endure unpopularity if he believed in his ideas. In response to requests that Congress end the “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy which punishes brave young Americans, the Arizona senator urged the military to conduct a survey as to what soldiers thought about ending discrimination against gays. I assume, Senator McCain believes the government should have conducted a survey of southern white beliefs on segregation during the fight over civil rights.

There is no need for surveys, there is no need for further debate. The rights of our fighting men and women are being abused because some members of the military are gays and lesbians. They may be gay or lesbian, but more importantly, they are members of the military and are risking their lives in defense of this nation. The least this nation can do in return is to fight for their rights to individual freedom of choice in sexual matters.

Editorial: John McCain And Redistribution Of Wealth

Senator John McCain continues to denounce Obama and Democrats for seeking to “redistribute the wealth.” It might help if McCain and his ignorant side-kick knew anything about the history of the United States which has been nonstop series of redistribution of wealth from the poor and middle class to the wealthy. It began in the 1790s when Alexander Hamilton paid full value on paper money that speculators had bought up at a fraction of the value from Revolutionary fighters who needed ready cash. It continued with tariff laws that protected the wealthy and allowed them to build factories, of course, the average American paid extra money since foreign goods now cost more. The Transcontinental Railroad was paid for by having the US government give railroad builders enormous grants of land they could sell in order to cover costs.

Historically, American business received free police protection in order to crush unions, they were allowed to exploit workers and children without any fear from a supportive government. Many business owners and southern families had their wealth built on the back of slave workers, and were never compelled to pay compensation. State legislatures were all too often controlled by business interests who had laws passed to protect their interests. I assume that could be termed “redistribution of the wealth.”

Our current tax laws are biased against poor people. Home owners get tax deductions but none are provided to those living in apartments. Business men use their wealth to take advantage of tax loopholes the ordinary American could never understand or use. Tax deductions for a range of things allow any intelligent business person to escape paying the full share of his income. The current estimate is that 5% of Americans control about 40% of the wealth. Is there something in that figure which suggests a “redistribution of the wealth” is needed?

We forget that during World War II, the government imposed high taxes on the wealthy in order to fight a war that had to be won. It is time to revisit World War II attitudes and require the wealthy of this nation to pay a higher percent of income in taxes. During the past month, wealthy bankers and lenders received tax money from the American people to survive, and some are paying themselves huge bonuses. Is that an example of “redistribution of wealth?”

Barack Obama is a rather centrist political leader who has never shown any indication he wants major “redistribution of the wealth.” His goal is rather modest, a slight increase in taxes paid by the wealthy–that is if he could ever pass a tax law they were unable to circumvent. No American leader is calling for any major “redistribution of wealth.” Knock i off, John. Your comments are rhetoric.

If anyone believes a Democratic Congress and President can “spend America into ruin” I suggest they examine the record of George Bush and his Republican Congress over the six years they were completely in control.

Iraq War Veterans At Democratic Convention

Iraqi war veterans are playing important roles at the Democratic party convention here they’ve marched, staged mock foot patrols on downtown Denver sidewalks and met with the former first lady to discuss health care issues for those who served in fighting in Iraq and Afghanistan. “The war has really changed this generation,” said David Bellavia, an Iraq veteran who helped form the group Vets for Freedom which advocates against an immediate withdrawal from Iraq. Matthis Chiroux, of Iraq Veterans Against the War, walked around in military fatigues trying to get across what has happened to young men and women who served in combat. Two former members of the military, Rep. Patrick Murphy and Rep. Tammie Duckworth have been noticeable by their fight in Congress against the war.

The generation that is fighting in Iraq and Afghanistan will not remain silent but intends to play a role in shifting their nation from a commitment to war towards one in which war is the last, not the first resort to a crisis. John McCain may have been a member of the military but he has lost contact with what those who have fought in Baghdad experienced in Iraq.

Mental Care Hit Or Miss Claim US Soldiers

Service members told Congress that mental health care for post-traumatic stress disorder is good– if they can get it. In one case, a suicidal soldier asked for help and got it, in another, a soldier deployed to Iraq asked for help, and when it was denied, he killed himself. Military medical personnel told Congress there are many issues hampering the development of an effective PTS progrm including recruiting and retaining mental health providers, educating officers about symptoms and causes of suicide, and finding proper tretment for PTSD. Ward Casscells, assistant defense secretary for health affair, insisted there still remained many problems, “treatment is a struggle. We don’t know vey wll what treatments work.”

The father of Pfc. Jason Scheuerman, had to file Freedom of Information requests to finally obtained information about the death of his son. A chaplalin said in a sworn statement that he believed Jason “obsessed with suicide” but the brigade psychologist thought the troubled young man was engaged in some form of manipulation to get out of combat. Jason committed suicide. Major Bruce Gannaway lost his foot in Iraq and was evaluted at Walter Reed Army Hospital for mental health issues while under heavy medication.

The Congressmen heard numerous stories and incidents of members of the military who fought in combat only to be denied proper mental health assistance. the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan are among the strangest in American history. The invasion of Iraq was based on a Bush lie and subsequent efforts have been characterized by incompetence and inability to find the right political and military policies. These are not wars in which soldiers have a clear rationale why they are fighting. There is insufficient military personnel available to handle the fighting so the same men and women must return for one deployment after another. Is it any wonder many feel emotional stress?

Congress Seeks Military Control Over Private Contractors

Congress is prepared to take new action ensuring the United States military exerts control over the actions of private contractors in Iraq and elsewhere. Sen. Carl Levin, chairman of the Senate Armed Service Committee, said Congress will insert such provisions in the 2008 defense spending bill. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice has already moved to implement new rules for private guards which will specify how and when they can use force in carrying out their duties. However, so far, she has not accepted the desire of many members of Congress that private contractors should be placed under control of the United States military. Levin was firm in insisting new language will be inserted into the defense spending bill, “whether she likes it or not.”

The entire matter of allowing private contractors to conduct their own war activities is a first in American history. The emergence of private war activities stems from the nation’s failure to implement a draft system if it desires engaging in wars. The private contractors today do work that was performed by members of the armed forces in World War II or Korea or Vietnam. No one ever heard any tales of erratic behavior on the part of Seabees in World War II. For some reason, they didn’t go around shooting civilians.

America’s Trillion Dollar Wars- Just Keep Counting That’s Not The Final Figure

By the end of this fiscal year President George Bush would have requested $196 Billion for the wars in Iraq and afghanistan pushing total expenditures to about $806 Billion, a figure that is greater than the cost of fighting the Vietnam and Korean wars. However, that figure is not completely correct since interest payments will run another $1 Trillion. Some economists point out if the cost of veteran benefits, including disability costs, is added into the total we might even be envisioning a $3 Trillion final total for the Bush search for ever elusive WMD. Speaker of the House, Nancy Pelosi, noted that Bush vetoed a bill to provide medical care for children that would have cost the American government the equivalent of 40 days fighting in Iraq. As an aside, the record keeping of the State Department is so bumbled that it can not even account for the $1.2 Billion it paid DynCorp for its services in Iraq.

President Bush had a wounded soldier by his side as he asked Congress for more money. Since day one of this fiasco, Bush has played the patriot and fear cards in order to compel Congress to do his biding. An American tragedy is how readily supposedly intelligent political leaders of this country were able to be frightened into granting Bush his way. Few stood up and demanded an accounting of why war, why such a costly war, and why couldn’t diplomacy have achieved results.

Bush Plays Politics With Wounded Soldier Bill

Democrats on the Senate Veterans Affairs Committee sent a letter to President Bush asking him to cooperate with Congress in order to quickly pass a bill to assist those wounded in the Iraq war. Congress has almost completed work on the Wounded Warriors Act and is in the final stages of ironing out details causing many to be shocked that the president was now submitting a new bill dealing with wounded soldiers. Democrats fear Bush’s plan is complex and will tie up the committee into a new set of arguments and discussions. They are requesting the president to hold off on complex issues so that immediate needs of wounded soldiers can be handled in an expeditious manner. The Democrats agree his plan meets some of the ideas already incorporated into the Wounded Warriors Act, but expressed concern “about provisions of your bill that would provide a basis for drastic changes to VA’s disability compensation system.” Democrats made clear they would not allow the VA to unilaterally changes the disability system without congressional input.

Perhaps, Republican supporters of George Bush can explain why the president waited until AFTER work had been completed in Congress before submitting his own ideas. It is obvious this is just another Bush ploy to grab the limelight and take credit for work done by Democrats in Congress. If wounded soldiers get caught up in his political games, so be it. After all, Bush interests always take precedence over those of the American people.

Legislation For Wounded Soldiers Pushed In Congress

President Bush urged Congress to modernize the government’s inefficient system that cares for the wounded. Several months ago, Bush appointed a bipartisan commission to examine issues related to dealing with wounded soldiers and veterans. Republican Bob Dole and Democrat Donna Shalala headed a commission which made recommendations, but both stated in an op-ed piece appearing in the Washington Post they feared their proposals would be lost in the bureaucracy and urged a complete reform program. “It’s time,” said their article, “to decide –do we reform the current military and veterans’ disability evaluation and compensation systems or limp along, placing Band-Aids over existing flaws?” Bush informed Congress the “outdated system needs to be changed.”

George Bush is master of creating problems and then blaming others for the problems he created. He appointed political hacks to run the Veterans Administration resulting in veterans being denied benefits, and he did not do his job to organize a medical system ready to cope with Iraq wounded military personnel. Now, the president is “prodding Congress” to get to work. At no point does Bush ever take responsibility for his own failures, he prefers blaming Democrats. The idea for a Homeland Security Department came from Democrat members of Congress and Bush opposed it. Within a few months it became his idea and Democrats were then accused of not being patriotic for insisting on certain procedures in the new department. Bush is trying the same old scam about wounded soldiers.

Turkish Political Leaders Angry At American Jews

The vote by members of the U.S. House of Representatives Foreign Affairs Committee underlined the failure of Turkish political leaders to influence American Jewish politicians. Seven of eight Jews on the committee voted in favor of the resolution including Tom Lantos, the only Holocaust survivor serving in Congress. Turkish politicians had hoped he would oppose the resolution particularly after his statement: “We have to weigh the desire to express our solidarity with the Armenian people and to condemn the historic nightmare through the use of the word ‘genocide’ against the risks that it would cause young men and women in the uniform of the United States armed forces to pay an even higher price (in Iraq and Afghanistan) than they are currently paying.” Turkish politicians were shocked when Lantos voted for the resolution. According to Egeman Bagis, advisor to Prime Minister Erdogan, “we have seen that his understanding of history is changing in time.”

Many American Jews, including Tom Lantos, believe anything less than support for Armenians is, in effect, a denial of what the Holocaust has taught humanity about remaining silent in the presence of evil. The resolution is aimed at the Ottoman empire, not the nation of Turkey. Frankly, the reaction of Turks to the resolution surprises many Americans. The American Congress voted an apology for the internment of Japanese Americans during World War II in order to recognize an injustice. That vote, in no way, was meant to insult contemporary Americans, it simply recognized a past act of evil. Congress has voted an apology for slavery, that resolution did not blame or castigate contemporary Americans for what happened in the past. It is insulting to American Jews for Turkish political leaders to threaten action against Israel for the votes of American Jewish congressmen. Americans expect their representatives to vote based on their conscience, not what is good or bad for Israel or what pleases Turkey. The bullying behavior of Turkish politicians will only damage their own country because it is alienating millions of Americans. How would Turkish people react if American politicians made threats to members of their parliament if they didn’t vote in a manner pleasing to America?

Who Us? Asks Blackwater Founder

Erik Prince, founder of the Blackwater corporation, challenged congressional and Iraq government reports that Blackwater personnel acted in an out-of-control fashion during the killing of 11 Iraqis in a September 16th shootout. He claimed guards responded to hostile shooting and acted in a responsible manner. Mr. Prince says that “every life is precious whether American or Iraqi,” but “based on everything we currently know, the Blackwater team acted appropriately when operating in a very complex situation.”

Mr. Prince claims that “everything we know” indicates Blackwater guards acted “appropriately,” but everything we know based on congressional and Iraqi government reports indicates the exact opposite. His company has had twice the number of shootings as the next two largest security companies combined, but Mr. Prince claims every Iraqi life “is precious.” Observers from various nations, and from the American government note conclusively Blackwater guards were frightened and shooting without concern for human life. The real tragedy is having a system in operation which prevents placing on trial the Blackwater guards for the murder of innocent people– unless congressional and Iraqi government reports are erroneous.