Wednesday, November 18, 2009


For the past several weeks, the usual suspects have been attacking President Obama for not making a decision on troop levels in Afghanistan quickly enough for their warmongering taste. And despite the fact that whatever the ultimate decision is, additional troops won't be deployed until next spring, they continue to insist that a decision must be made now.

Here are just a few examples from the WMD-mushroom cloud-cakewalk-in-Iraq crowd: we have the "dithering" Dick Cheney suddenly concerned about our troops being in danger, John "President Wannabe" McCain still wanting tobomb, bomb, bomb, bomb, bomb something, and Charles Krauthammerwho has taken it upon himself to decide how a president must act -- which would presumably fall somewhere between himself and Attila the Hun.

And in a class(less) by himself is Bill Kristol, the lead cheerleader for the war in Iraq, who unbelievably says:

... what the White House thinks in the sense that they think it's an excrutiating decision, it's very tough. I think that's pathetic ... why is this a tough call?

Why is this a tough call? As we have learned over the past six years, there are thousands of reasons.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

2,266 Veterans Died In 2008 Because They Were Uninsured

The Huffington Post | Elyse Siegel

According to a study released by the Harvard Medical School, 2,266 veterans under the age of 65 died last year as a result of not having health insurance. Researchers emphasize that "that figure is more than 14 times the number of deaths (155) suffered by U.S. troops in Afghanistan in 2008, and more than twice as many as have died (911 as of Oct. 31) since the war began in 2001."

The 1.46 million working-age veterans that did not have health insurance last year all experienced reduced access to care as a consequence, leading to "six preventable deaths a day."

Like other uninsured Americans, most uninsured vets are working people -- too poor to afford private coverage but not poor enough to qualify for Medicaid or means-tested VA care," said Dr. Steffie Woolhandler, a professor at Harvard Medical School. [...]

Dr. David Himmelstein, the co-author of the report and associate professor of medicine at Harvard, commented, "On this Veterans Day we should not only honor the nearly 500 soldiers who have died this year in Iraq and Afghanistan, but also the more than 2,200 veterans who were killed by our broken health insurance system. That's six preventable deaths a day."

The study's authors warn that the health care legislation "would do virtually nothing for the uninsured until 2013" and would "leave at least 17 million uninsured over the long run when reform kicks in," leaving many veterans still without care.

Tom Coburn Continues To Oppose Funding For Wounded Veterans And Their Families

Wed Nov 11, 2009 at 10:22:03 AM PST

On a day set aside to honor all military veterans, let's take a moment to remember Tom Coburn (R-OK) -- no, not for his military service, because hereally lucked out on the draft lottery in 1969 -- but for his one-man roadblockagainst:

... assistance to caregivers of veterans, to improve the provision of health care to veterans, and for other purposes.

... otherwise known as the Caregiver and Veterans Services Act of 2009, that can't get to the Senate floor because of the hold placed on the bill by Coburn.

Because while Coburn may wave a flag and have a properly pinned lapel when it suits him, he's not interested in the pleas from:

The American Legion, Veterans of Foreign Wars, Disabled American Veterans, AmVets, Paralyzed Veterans of America, Blinded Veterans Association, Military Order of the Purple Heart, Vietnam Veterans of America, Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America and Jewish War Veterans, plus the Military Officers Association of America, National Military Family Association and Wounded Warrior Project.

... to get this bill passed, even though:

Thousands of disabled veterans with serious medical conditions and the family members who care for them are counting on this additional support. [...]

Steve Robertson, legislative director for The American Legion, said delaying the bill hurts families caring for severely wounded combat veterans who would benefit from the stipends, health care, counseling and respite care that would be provided to caregivers in the bill.

“For a lot of family caregivers, delay is costing them their jobs and their savings. It’s having a big impact,” he said.

So, what is Coburn's objection to the bill? He hates "the idea of creating new benefits without paying for them" and wants the funding to come out of the economic stimulus money.

Yesterday, Harry Reid (D-NV) called Coburn's stance "illogical" given that he never raised any objections "when we were spending a trillion dollars on the war in Iraq."

Which is a good point. One that Reid should make while making a motion to proceed to consideration of the bill, forcing Coburn to publicly filibuster against benefits for veterans, rather than continuing to allow him to hide like a coward behind his anonymous hold.

Update: From a press release:

Over 13,000 petition signatures, raised in a matter of less than a week, were delivered to Senator Tom Coburn, calling on him to end his hold on a veterans spending bill. The petition, sponsored by and retired General Wesley Clark's “Securing America,” calls on Coburn to end his hold on S. 1963, "The Caregivers and Veterans Omnibus Health Services Act of 2009."

We the undersigned call on you to stop this disgraceful move of holding up some very important veteran legislation, S. 1963, "The Caregivers and Veterans Omnibus Health Services Act of 2009." While this is a legal move, we think it is morally wrong for you to hold up any veterans benefits during a time when our men and women in uniform are giving so much to our country.

You are denying veterans a myriad of benefits and services ...

Now is not the time to play petty political games with our veterans. What you are doing is shameful, and those of us who are veterans and support veterans will not stand for it.

Outrage! GOP won't join in Ft. Hood moment of silence!

Wed Nov 11, 2009 at 12:50:04 PM PST

When Sen. Bob Menendez (D-NJ) convened a hearing of the Senate Subcommittee on Housing, Transportation, and Community Development yesterday, he asked everyone to join him in a moment of silence for the victims of the Ft. Hood shootings, and not a single Republican would join him!

Of course, that's probably because there wasn't a single Republican in attendance. (Gee, maybe I should have gone with that as a headline. Darn it all, it's Fox's world, we just live in it!)

And why wasn't there a single Republican in attendance, as near as I can make out at any point, throughout the two hours during which the committee sat?

Probably because of the subject of the hearing: "Ending Veterans' Homelessness."

Republicans, we know from Bill O'Reilly, do not believe there is such a thing as a homeless veteran. So they won't sit still for a hearing on something as absurd as that, nevermind that it was the day before Veterans' Day.

Watch the archived footage of the hearing for yourself, and see if you can spot so much as a scrap of paper on the table where the Republicans are supposed to be.

Little Steven - "Leonard Peltier"