Janet's Conner

This Blog tell the Truth and will never not tell the Truth. Impeach Bush

Thursday, May 25, 2006


The beefy-armed Derik Van Baale, who can beat anybody on a physical test, couldn't defeat the violent nightmares and intrusive thoughts that welcomed him home to Newton in 2003.

"Lots of my peers turned to alcohol when we came off active duty," said Van Baale, who was among the first front-line soldiers in bloody, chaotic Baghdad with the Army's 1st Battallion, 41st Infantry.

Van Baale drank himself to sleep every night.

Somebody suggested the veterans center in Des Moines.

He took a chance. He found himself opening up to Katrina Mach, the director there, and she helped him heal.

It often takes a veteran 12 months to put down the bottle and walk in the door, said Van Baale, who was diagnosed as 70% disabled from Post-traumatic stress disorder.

That, incidentally, comes with compensation. The government pays just over $100 a month for a 10% PTSD disability, and about $2,300 a month for a 100% disability.

Van Baale, 29, now works for the center, which is part of the Department of Veterans Affairs, reaching out to Iraq and Afghanastan veterans.

"Usually your life gets pretty bad first, before you come here," Van Baale said.

Some service members are concerned about their careers, so he assures people that the free counseling is, by law, confidential.

"Their chain of command will never know about it---I was worried about that, too," Van Baale said. "If the soldier has the willingness to want to change, they can. I've done it. I know it can be done."

Source of Information: DesMoines Register
By: Jennifer Jacobs
May 21, 2006


An internal Department of Veterans Affairs report finds that some medical benefits, such as home-based treatment, adult day care and respite care, have been improperly denied to eligible veterans.

The report from the VA inspector general also says, as veterans have long suspected, that the VA is not meeting its goal of cutting the waiting time to 30 days for initial care and does not even seem to count the waiting time for specialty care such as cardiology, orthopedic surgery and gastroenterology.

Sen. Daniel Akaka, ranking Democrat on the Senate Veterans' Affairs Committee who had requested the investigation after hearing complaints about roadblocks in the way of getting treatment, said the report "has once again shown us that underfunding [the] VA means veterans do not get the care they deserve, be those long-term care services or critical care cardiac procedures. Indeed, the investigators found that budget shortfalls led to illegal restrictions on care."

Akaka said more improvements have been made and he expects more to follow because Congress appears willing to provide money that the Bush administration does not.

Under a 1999 law, the VA can provide service to veterans in their own homes or community settings where hospital care is not appropriate. This includes having home-based primary or specialized care, home health aides, adult day care and respite and hospice care.

"Even though non-institutional care services are available to all eligible veterans, some medical facilities limited access of certain non-institutional care services to only the highest priority veterans, such as those with at least 70% service-connected disability," the IG report says. "Some medical facilities were either unable or chose not to provide veterans with non-institutional care in remote regions of their geographic areas."

VA officials pledged to do better. First, they promised in a response to the report to remind facility directors, nursing directors and chiefs of staff that non-institutional care is part of the VA benefits package. Second, officials said the VA would "incrementally expand" coverage to remote areas, although this would only be done as the budget allows.

The IG report also recommends that the VA figure out how to measure waiting time for elective health care and to cut the waiting time, someting VA officials also pledged to do.

Source of Information: Navy Times
Story By: Times Staff Writer
May 19, 2006


Budget bill includes many earmarks for politicians' pet projects

BILOXI, Miss.---This city's east side remains largely abandoned, a bleak panorama of empty lots and abandoned homes left behind by the tradesmen, shrimpers and casino workers who once lived here.

Hundreds had little or no insurance. For people such as 83-year-old Elzora Brown, a retired dry-cleaning presser whose little frame house was waterlogged up to the eaves, there's not enough federal disaser aid for repairs. "Whatever the Lord sees fit, that's what I'll have," she said.

Just down the coast in Pascagoula, defense contractor Grumman Corp. similarly didn't have enough insurance to cover hurricane losses at its shipyards. But the company isn't awaiting divine intervention.

It had an ally in the U.S. Senate and is slated to receive $140 million for rebuilding.

"The losses incurred...could adversely impact those jobs, add to the cost of the high-tech destroyers and cruisers the shipyard is building for the Navy, and affect our national security." said Sen. Trent Lott (R-MISS). Northrop's money is tucked into the $109B spending bill intended for Hurricane Katrina and the Iraq war. It is an earmark, one of those narrowly focused appropriations that members of Congress arrange for their constituents or favored recipients.

***I've got to say it! Do you know how you can point out one of Bush's puppets? It's become something that they "all" have been doing. Whenever you hear one of them say phrases like Trent Lott (R-MISS), just did. "National security!" The Republicans have tried to condition us into believing that whenever they say things like "National Security," "National Interest," so on and so forth, that the American people are supposed to just shut up and don't ask questions. Unfortunately, they have succeeded in their conditioning of the American people, because whenever you hear it, nobody questions it. Even the reporters seem to just shut up! You people had better start opening up your ears and get those brainwaves going! I wish out was out there when somebody was taking questions! And what about this constituent thing? Aren't "the people" considered their contituents anymore, or does it just mean "their financial supporters?"

In recent years, Congress has been on a spending binge worth tens of billions of dollars, and there has been talk on Capitol Hill or reining in earmarks. But the Senate version of the bill includes billions in such spending, covering an array of far-flung causes: New England shellfisherman affected by ride tide, a program to fight an insect ravaging pine trees in the Rockies, and a road in Hawaii.

Critics have pointed to the bill as a monumental example of earmarking taken to extremes, with many noting that while the bill was supposed to address "emergency" spending for the war and Katrina relief, many of the outlays had little to do with an emergency, the war or the hurricane.

***It's an election season. Since the Republicans don't have anything going for them, they figured that they could "buy" back some of the votes. I'd take the money and still not vote for them! Teach them a lesson for taking advantage of "the people!"

Usually the critics attack earmarks as wasteful, but the experience in Missippi reveals another problem, according to some local officials here. No one doubts that the state needs recovery money. The question is whether some of the earmarks for Gulf Coast projects such as Northrop's are coming at the expense of the urgent needs reflected in the abandoned streets.

'Railroad to nowhere'

Among the projects in the Senate version of the bill are $38M to repair historic Mississippi properties such as Jefferson Davis' home overlooking the beach in Biloxi; $176M to build a military retirement home in Gulfport; and the biggest project, $700M to buy an 80-mile stretch of railroad over which a new highway would be built. That project, which has become known as the "railroad to nowhere," was inserted into the bill by Lott and Mississippi's other senator, Thad Cochran (R), chairman of the Appropriations Committee. It would reroute a trainline damaged by Katrina---and already rebuilt at a cost of at least $250M.

Those projects will help jump-start the area's economic engines, say advocates, and the new highway over the railroad tracks would also improve hurricane safety because it would move east-west traffic way from an existing thoroughfare that hugs the coast.

But many local officials say those expensive projects may be pushing aside more-immediate demands from people still struggling to rebuild their lives.

"What they're saying to Northrup Grumman is 'Here---here's $140M. Go get yourself back together,'" said Bill Stallworth, a Biloxi City Council member running a relief center out of a church building here. "What we're saying is 'Look, people, we need more money to get people back in their homes. We need housing. Volunteers can't do it all.'" He said that if the volunteer building crew he uses could just hire a handful of licensed plumbers and electricians, they could increase the number of homes being rebuilt in the area from 10 a month to 100. But there isn't enough money.

The federally funded housing program offers money only to about half of the approximately 42,000 homeowners who received damage: those who owned property outside the designated "flood zone" and those who had a homeowners insurance policy but lacked flood insurance.

The state recently began accepting applications for that program. But even for that limited group, the relief often falls short of what is required to rebuild, because homeowners can receive no more than the limit of their homeowners insurance policy and many, such as Brown, were underinsured.

Dire financial straits

Eddie Favre is mayor of nearby Bat St. Louis, a small city that bore some of the worst of the storm surge. He said he found it difficult to support the purchase of the CSX rail line because of the more pressing demands he faces.

The city's property tax base has dropped from $87M to $27M because of the destruction, he said, and the city is in dire financial straits.

The railroad purchase "may be a great project, but to me there's a lot more pressing needs that the $700M could cover," he said. "I don't know how I'm going to pay our police. I don't know how we're going to pay our teachers. I don't even know if there's going to be a city anymore."

Cochran defended the railroad project, saying it is important to economically jump-start the region.

"I understand many needs remain in the Gulf Coast region and there is still much that needs to be rebuilt," he said. "We need to make sure that there will be industry and jobs for the people who are attempting to rebuild their lives, and we need to make sure we are prepared for future storms by rebuilding in a way that mitigates future damage."

***You know.....if this Cochran and Lott are up for re-election, I hope like hell that they aren't re-elected. And if the Democrats didn't put someone up against these guys, they're even stupider than the Republicans! PEOPLE COME FIRST! I often wonder when the Republicans are going to join the human-race!

The appropriations bill is intended for "emergency" spending for the war and Katrina relief.

Earmarks avoid more vigorous review and add billions to the cost of the legislation. Assistance for farmers around the country added at least $4B. But by spreading the wealth, legislators pleased constituents nationwide and built support for its passage.

But the towering forests that climb the slopes of the snow-capped Rockies just west of Lake Dillon, Colo., are a long way from Katrina's path and from Baghdad. The bill includes $30M to deal with a hungry insect called the bark beetle that is eating its way through the state's pine trees.

The insect-control funds were added on the Senate floor, with no debate and no committee consideration, after Sen. Ken Salazar (D-COLO) warned the "extended drought and insect infestations have created dangerous conditions for catastrophic fires in 2006."

And least one of the projects has been rejected twice before but has won preliminary approval as an earmark; money to alleviate the red-tide losses borne by New England shellfisherman.

Last summer, senators from the region asked colleagues to include $15M in the Commerce, Justice and Science appropriations bill to help. That didn't work. They also requested that the Office of Management and Budget include money for shellfishermen in the next federal budget but were turned down.

$20 million for red tide

They have had more success in the current bill. The Senate approved a measure that provides $20 million to "assist shellfishermen" in New England affected by a red tide outbreak last year.

Melissa Wagoner, a spokesman for Sen. Edward M. Kennedy (D-MASS), defended the decision to include the money in an emergncy appropriations bill.

"It's an emergency for our fisherman and their families," she said, adding that "you look for a vehicle" to get the measure passed.

In Biloxi, Brown said she may receive as much as $40,000 in aid. But her house took on water up to the eaves, and the cost of repairs probably will far extend that. Last week, her son was on her front porch, trying to make repairs.

"You hear about billions of dollars coming from Washington," said Robert Brown, 58, a garbage truck driver. "But where is it?"

Source of Information: MSNBC
Story By: Peter Whoriskey
May 24, 2006
*Staff writers David A. Fahrenthold in Boston, T.T. Reid in Denver and Catherine Skipp in Miami contributed to this article.


Ever since 1948, when historian Arthur Schlesinger Sr., first polled leading scholars and asked them to rank our presidents, updated polls have been released every few years. As a participant in the current poll, I spent several weeks thinking long and hard about the best and worst of our country's presidents---and about President Bush's eventual place in history.

As aides and supporters worry whether Bush's presidency can "be salvaged," I respectfully suggest the future of the country, rather than the president's legacy, is the topic more worth pondering. The forthcoming poll will be the first to include a preliminary ranking of this President Bush. So, here is my prediction.

There is much agreement by scholars as to the greatest presidents: they are Abraham Lincoln, Franklin Roosevelt, George Washington and Theodore Roosevelt, with Harry Truman, Thomas Jefferson and Andrew Jackson not far behind. These great leaders provide a standard by which all presidents are measured---and clues as to how Bush measures up. From the great presidents we know that the country is well-served by leaders who exhibit the following traits:

* Humanity, compassion, and respect for others
* A governing style that unifies, not divides
* Rhetorical skills and the ability to communicate a clear, realistic vision
* Willingness to listen to experts and the public
* Ability to admit error, accept criticism and be adaptable
* Engaged and inquisitive, with a sense of perspective and history
* Integrity, inspiring trust among the people
* Moral courage in not shrinking from challenges

Unfortunately, Bush's legacy has been the polar opposite of this list. This brings up the matter of who are our worst presidents. Again, scholars are in agreement, listing Warren Harding, Andrew Johnson, Franklin Pierce and James Buchanan.

Like them, Bush has been tone deaf, disinterested in advice and evidence that contradict his beliefs, intellectually disengaged from the crisis that have enveloped his administration, and arrogant in exercising power. Bush's failure is most apparent in the major crisis of his presidency, namely mishandling the war in Iraq and Hurricane Katrina, recklessly amassing the world's largest deficits and debt, and failing to lead on pressing challenges such as the skyrocketing costs of health care, fuel and a college educcation.

In each case, he steadfastly refused to adjust, adapt or alter his flawed strategy. These missteps bode poorly for Bush because a president's ultimate legacy is how he responds to crisis, particularly war.

Undoubtedly, the source of the problem rests with Bush's personal style. Ironically, this is the very trait about which he and his supporters boasted as a candidate.

Bush's shortcomings are numerous and can be seen in the mountain of wildly foolish and juvenile official remarks he has made in office, from his premature boast of "mission accomplished" aboard the aircraft carrier USS Abraham Lincoln to his goading terrorists and suicide bombers to "bring 'em on!" And they have.

The president continues to proclaim success in the face of overwhelming and incontrovertible failure, while spinning or even outright suppressing facts and evidence to the point where one wonders if he is in touch with reality. Examples abound, including his insistence that an "abstinence-only" policy will prevent HIV-AIDS or his decision to legalize the sale of assault weapons. Bush has repeatedly suppressed intelligence about the war, ignored medical evidence in decisions by the FDA and mocked scientific studies on environmental degradation, while both his attorneys general have stood behind legal and constitutional interpretations that fly in the face of reason, precedent and the vision of the Founding Fathers.

A particularly disturbing trait of this president has been the culture of secrecy and deceit that has permeated the White House, a problem compunded by his refusal to explain himself and treatment of questions (and questioners) as if they were treasonous. To be sure, unlike Lincoln (who appealed to "our better angels" in times of crisis) and FDR (who affirmed that "the only thing we have to fear is fear itslef"), Bush opted for the low road, governing on fear and distraction. Far from uniting the nation and reaching out, he has sealed himself off from the public, press and critics and divded this nation more sharply than anytime since the Civil War.

Indeed, the president has long passed the point of simply being untrustworthy; he has made a mockery of the office. That Bush will be remembered by history as a failure is now conventional wisdom among scholars of the presidency.

So, the question becomes how far down the ramking list will he be?

Bush will likely be remembered much as is Warren Harding, who was disinterested in policy details, brought a group of corrupt cronies to the White House and stumbled through one mishap after the other. He is remembered as something of a jovial but incompetent puppet for corporate interests, and for setting the nation on a course to the Great Depression.

But it is James Buchanan, president from 1857-1861, who often earns the dubious title of "worst president" because he lost the Union to civil war on his watch, and failed to change course until it was too late.

When history renders its cold assessment of George W. Bush, I believe he will find himself alongside Harding and Buchanan as one of the worst presidents in American history. Bush's legacy will likely be that of death, deficits and deceit, and it could well take this nation a decade or more to recover from his presidency.

Source: Common Dreams News Center
Story By: Robert P. Watson
May 24, 2006
This article was printed in the Sun-Sentinel (Florida)

***Robert Watson, PhD., won the Distinguished Teacher of the Year Award this year at Florida Atlantic University and is the author or editor of 25 books on politics.