Friday, November 30, 2007

Lies, Damned Lies, and Dead Lies

Bush Lie Dispenser
, originally uploaded by azrainman.

The Bush administration has presented you and me with some spectacularly false information. Consider this mini list of "untruths"...

The complete list is so much longer. (That's 7 good Bush Lie links, not including Crooks and Liars, which tracks the whole crooked lot of them.) Most recently, there are these last two matters of Bush botched record keeping:

The number of brain injuries inflicted on US personnel affects the ultimate long term cost of the war and occupation, something I have been fretting over for a while now, and I'm not alone. Thus, the injury and cost untruths are intertwined.

The last item in the list is blood curdling, at least for me. In a recent edition of CounterPunch, Mike Whitney asserted that, "The Pentagon has been concealing the true number of American casualties in the Iraq War. The real number exceeds 15,000 and CBS News can prove it."

Whitney tells the tale of CBS's Investigative Unit and its experience obtaining misinformation from the Department of Defense (DOD). Whitney's article reveals that CBS submitted a FOIA (Freedom of Information Act) request to the DOD for a story on military suicide. After a 4 month wait, CBS received a DOD document indicating, "that between 1995 and 2007-- there were 2,200 suicides among 'active duty' soldiers."

Trusting the DOD about as much as I do and realizing the DOD was only answering part of their question, CBS went on to collect veteran suicide data from 45 states and learned that in 2005 alone there were 120 suicides each week for a total of 6,256 suicides among those who had served in just that one year.
Active and retired military personnel, mostly young veterans between the ages of 20 to 24, are returning from combat and killing themselves in record numbers. We can assume that "multiple-tours of duty" in a war-zone have precipitated a mental health crisis of which the public is entirely unaware and which the Pentagon is in total denial.
Adding these 6,256 suicide victims from 2005 to the 3,865 combat casualties "officially" reported by the DOD yields a sum of 10,121 military deaths. Furthermore, even a conservative "low-ball" estimate of 2004 and 2006 suicide figures indicates that US military casualties from the Iraq war and ongoing occupation now exceed 15,000.
That's right; 15,000 dead US servicemen and women in a war that--as yet--has no legal or moral justification.
CBS interviewed the head of mental health at the Department of Veteran Affairs, Dr. Ira Katz, who attempted to minimize the suicide increase, but Whitney doesn't seem to buy it.
Maybe Katz is right...Maybe it's perfectly normal for young men and women to return from combat, sink into inconsolable depression, and kill themselves at greater rates than they were dying on the battlefield. Maybe it's normal for the Pentagon to abandon them as soon as soon they return from their mission so they can blow their brains out or hang themselves with a garden hose in their basement. Maybe it's normal for politicians to keep funding wholesale slaughter while they brush aside the casualties they have produced by their callousness and lack of courage. Maybe it is normal for the president to persist with the same, bland lies that perpetuate the occupation and continue to kill scores of young soldiers who put themselves in harm's-way for their country.
If you want to know my personal opinion (which is consistent with what some officials in a position to know have claimed), the Bush administration has not misled; it has not misinformed; it has not been mistaken. It has lied. They are crooks. They are liars. They are war criminals. And they provided incomplete information about the number of military suicides with the intent to mislead, as they have on every other matter.

To say that the "official" information provided by the Bush administration cannot be trusted is an understatement. And heaven knows, I wouldn't want to be accused of that. I'm just trying to figure out which one of them will blame the soldier suicide surge on the Democrats.

And by the way, it's not normal. You know what else isn't normal? Taking it lying down.
Take lying down~ to hear or yield without protest, contradiction, or resistance: I refuse to take such outrageous lies lying down.
Agitate. Find a way.

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Civics Lesson

This is Richard Dreyfus celebrating democracy at the National Education Association Representative Assembly:

I don't agree with his Canada and Costa Rico comment, but there is much to appreciate here. Indeed:
"You're teachers; you know a secret. You know that smart is better than stupid."

Also, on Maher, "An Uneducated Electorate Promotes Democracy Lost":

We, the People, who wish to form a more perfect union...
There is no we did it already; it is we are doing it. Never forget that.
Let us remember to Dream.

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Thursday, November 29, 2007

Remember Darfur? Anyone?

Anyone? Bueller?

First, from Fortune magazine/CNN Money:

Good citizens speak out when they see injustice. Can good corporate citizens be expected to do the same?

That’s the uncomfortable question being raised by a human rights group called Dream for Darfur, which is asking sponsors of the 2008 Olympics in Beijing to voice their opposition to China’s support for the government of Sudan. The Sudanese government has been accused of waging a genocide against its own citizens in Darfur.

This week Dream for Darfur issued a length report as part of its challenge to 19 Olympic sponsors, including such well-known global brands as Coca-Cola, General Electric, Kodak, Microsoft and Visa, to press China, Sudan’s most important global ally, to use its influence to end the Darfur crisis. China buys oil from the Sudanese government, and sells weapons to the Khartoum regime. Since 2003, about 200,000 people have died and an estimated 2.5 million people have been driven from their homes in Darfur.

In a the report, Dream for Darfur asks: “Why are the major corporations sponsoring the Olympics - some of the most recognizable brands in the world - refusing to speak out against the world’s most wrenching humanitarian crisis?” “Sponsors are supporting China’s efforts to position itself in glowing terms on the world stage,” said Jill Savitt, director of Dream for Darfur. “But they are silent about China’s role in the Darfur genocide, and in their silence, they are complicit.”

The rest of the story is here. You can read Dream for Darfur’s report here.

I have to say that I do not support the “Dream for Darfur” effort. There is no “Olympic dream” for the people of Darfur. They can only “dream” about what might happen if the rest of the world - including the big multi-national corporations who are kowtowing to the Chinese in their support of the Beijing Olympics next year - would get off its collective behind and actually do something to force the Chinese to end its support of the murderous Khartoum regime. Something like pulling their sponsorship of the Games. Which they won’t do. Because no one is forcing them to. A complete boycott - which “Dream for Darfur” amazingly does not support - might actually cause this to happen. I cannot for the life of me figure out why there is no campaign by these folks to force these sponsors to yank the money rug out from under The Genocide Olympics. That would be the way to “voice their opposition.” Anything less - like asking pointless “questions” - is simply more empty words. And the suffering people of Darfur have had their fill of those. They won't shield them from the bullets of the janjaweed.

MY dream is that the United States would boycott the Beijing Olympics, and I wish they would tell the Chinese exactly why. I will not be watching, except to find out who is still sponsoring the Games and their television broadcast. And those companies will not be getting my family’s dollars.

Then there’s this column from Nat Hentoff, writing in The Village Voice:

It’s Only Black Muslims

Has anyone heard Darfur mentioned in the presidential debates? Or in Congress?

If you haven’t been thinking about Darfur lately — which would come as no surprise, given that the newspapers and television news shows are mostly silent about it — here’s a recent report by Eric Reeves, an international authority on the genocide going on there and a constant recorder of the death toll (now more than 450,000 and counting):

“Typically they begin very early in the morning, before people are awake. . . . A bomber flying at high altitudes will push out barrel bombs designed to terrorize and kill civilians. As the civilians flee from their huts the Janjaweed [the government’s Arab militia] will sweep in, killing all the men, raping women.

“We have many reports of babies, male babies being killed, sometimes having their penises sliced off so that they would bleed to death in their mothers’ arms. . . .”

Reeves, a professor of English at Smith College in Massachusetts, has leukemia, but that hasn’t stopped him from spending many long hours into the night helping to keep the world aware of its passive complicity in these ceaseless horrors (go to

The rest is here, if you can stomach it. Try. Please. And do bookmark Prof. Reeves’ site. It’s the best thing going out there to find out what’s going on in Darfur. And he is a genuine hero for the tireless work he has done, crying out as an almost lone voice in the media wilderness, taking his case for the people of Darfur to whomever will listen.

So, I wonder, will any of the endless, mindless, so-called debates touch on Darfur? Will any candidate be bold enough to mention it, unprompted? Doubtful. It’s a situation that seems to intractable, so without hope, that people seem to content to just let it drop off their radar screens. If we cover our eyes, and turn our heads away, and hold our noses so we can’t smell the rotting corpses, and stuff enough metaphorical cotton in our ears so we don’t hear the screaming and crying, and refuse to speak its name, maybe it’ll just disappear.

And then we don’t have to think about it. Or our own complicity. Because that is what our silence and inaction amount to. We are the bystanders here.

Love Trumps Fear

Tony Perkins has sent out a new fundraising letter (here) and Eric Sapps blogs about it over at Faithful Democrats. Apparently, not only is the godless left using scripture to sell their agenda, but if real Christians don't hurry up and send money to Tony, they just might succeed.

My God! Has hell frozen over? Tony is actually afraid that the left might successfully hijack the language of faith.

Eric does a good job of dissecting Tony's latest plea for money and is worth a read. In a nutshell, he notes that Tony still has only one tool to combat the Godforsaken left: fear. Well, that and your money.

But even more importantly, Eric notes that efforts by progressive dems to reclaim our faith language and to state clearly and loudly that Perkins' fear and hate based theology is not what Christianity is about: "While we stood silent and abdicated the language of faith to the extreme right, they were given a free pass and never called on their hypocrisy. But now that Democrats and progressives are engaging effectively and forcefully in this area, they are terrified."

Faithful Democrats have had a simple approach to Perkins and his ilk: to counter the fearmongering and arrogance of the religious reich with a theology of hope and humility. Tony's desperate letter certainly suggests that this approach is not only succeeding, but has reshaped the faith and politics discourse.


Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Freaky In More Ways Than One

John Ashcroft gave a speech about security last night at the University of Colorado in Boulder.

What is amazing to me, is that he indicated he was willing to be waterboarded in response to a question from the audience

What is further freaky to me, is that is mentioned in the Rocky Mountain News, but not in the Boulder Daily Camera.

That just flat freaks me out. Boulder is infamous for it's left leaning, and is fondly (sometimes) referred to as"The Independant Republic of Boulder; 26 Square Miles Surrounded By Reality." We're talking serious granola-town here, with a big dollop of patchouli if you get my drift.

The Daily Camera article has somewhat of a scolding tone about some hecklers, but mentions NOTHING that Ashcroft said regarding:

  • Guantanemo is a good place for prisoners
  • He indicated willingness to be waterboarded
  • Ashcroft received $20,000

You have to read the Rocky or find this out at ThinkProgress

Just what in the hell is going on if The Boulder Daily Camera is becoming part of the Village Wurlitzer?

It's just all so freaky. I'm now wondering if he's willing to be tasered too...

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Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Questions Questions Questions

The upcoming CNN Youtube Republican Debate sure doesn't look to be shaping up like the previous ones. Have a look at some of the editor's featured questions so far.

I want to see this one asked:

How about YOU?

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Monday, November 26, 2007

Silencing the drums, before it's too late.

Chris Hedges, writing in The Nation, on the coming war with Iran:

I will not pay my income tax if we go to war with Iran. I realize this is a desperate and perhaps futile gesture. But an attack on Iran–which appears increasingly likely before the coming presidential election–will unleash a regional conflict of catastrophic proportions. This war, and especially Iranian retaliatory strikes on American targets, will be used to silence domestic dissent and abolish what is left of our civil liberties. It will solidify the slow-motion coup d’état that has been under way since the 9/11 attacks. It could mean the death of the Republic.

Let us hope sanity prevails. But sanity is a rare commodity in a White House that has twisted Trotsky’s concept of permanent revolution into a policy of permanent war with nefarious aims–to intimidate and destroy all those classified as foreign opponents, to create permanent instability and fear and to strip citizens of their constitutional rights.

A war with Iran is doomed. It will be no more successful than the Israeli airstrikes on Lebanon in 2006, which failed to break Hezbollah and united most Lebanese behind that militant group. The Israeli bombing did not pacify 4 million Lebanese. What will happen when we begin to pound a country of 65 million people whose land mass is three times the size of France?

The rest is here. I recommend this article to you, and I also recommend that we all start figuring out exactly how we - WE THE PEOPLE - are going to organize against this war. Because I firmly believe it’s coming, and soon, probably as the early primaries unfold after the holidays. The White House propaganda machine has been gining up its anti-Iran efforts for months, and every week, yet another story somehow tying Iran to the debacle in Iraq comes out. Listen to an hour or so of any conservative talk radio show. As soon as they get done with their latest anti-Hillary Clinton paranoic rant, it’s back to the “threat” posed by Iran. Hour after hour, day after day. And we know who’s feeding them this garbage. It’s just a matter of time before the covert actions across the border by U.S. forces, followed by a bombing campaign, will begin. With, I’m sure, all the dire consequences that Hedges predicts here.

So what do we do? When the Democratic candidates “debate” - that is, when they are not wasting their time and ours attacking each other like school children - the questions from the Blitzers and the Russerts of the Bootlicking Corporate Media all focus on somehow taking a stand that encourages war. NEVER is the question posed, to any candidate, on either side, “what can and should be done to avoid going to war with Iran?” NEVER are any of the candidates who now hold seats in the Senate asked “What will you do to STOP the Bush/Cheney regime from going to war with Iran, as they seem determined to do?” Instead, they are asked to show how “tough” they are by being pushed toward taking a pro-war stance.

Of course, any of them, if they wanted to, could answer differently. Only the C-list few seem interested, if they even get a chance to speak. Of course, they could make campaign speeches on this issue, but who’d listen? Bush, Inc. will find a way to scare enough people, with either fears about terr’ism at shopping malls (just in time for Christmas) or high gasoline prices as the bait. Obviously, as Hedges points out, those are two things that are GUARANTEED to occur should we launch another war.

So, again I’ll ask, what can we do? I’m going to start with composing letters to the editor of our local newspapers, and getting them out as soon as possible. If the pundit class is going to bang the drum for this war, or remain silent, as so many have so far, it’s up to us to speak out. In the newspapers, online, on call-in shows, on street corners, in our houses of worship, WE must SPEAK OUT. In fact, your church or temple or whatever would be a GREAT place to start. If Bush’s war on Iraq is illegal, immoral, and totally unjustified, what about this one? How can anyone POSSIBLY defend this action?

The point is, they can’t. Unless they truly are delusional. Or fascists. Or both. And, they can, if we let them.

The war in Iraq has been a disaster, in so many ways. A war with Iran will produce unspeakable horrors that we can only hint at now. It’s time for us - ALL OF US - to find a way to speak up and speak out. WE have to stop looking for other people to be the ones to wage peace. We have to be the peacemongers.

Silence is no longer an option. Silence means complicity. Silence means surrender.

Are you ready for that?

Sunday, November 25, 2007

Sunday with Walela - Open Thread

With our recent bit of discussion about the fantastic movie, 'Smoke Signals' I thought this offering appropriate. It's the music of Walela whose music was quite prominent in the movie. Wonderful....wonderful...

In fact, here' s a clip of what Ellie - among others - can expect. I'm off to get it myself today and watch it for the 34th time! The only other film to enjoy that much prestige in my house, 'It's a Wonderful Life' - oh, yeah , 'Last of the Mohicans', and then, 'To Kill A Mockingbird' . . . . . huh - guess my most favoritest list is longer than I thought!


Friday, November 23, 2007

Go ahead: defend THIS.

I Dare You.

Just sitting here waiting for one of the more prominent warmongers to defend this latest lie. Submitted without further comment. From today's USA Today:

At least 20,000 U.S. troops who were not classified as wounded during combat in Iraq and Afghanistan have been found with signs of brain injuries, according to military and veterans records compiled by USA TODAY.

The data, provided by the Army, Navy and Department of Veterans Affairs, show that about five times as many troops sustained brain trauma as the 4,471 officially listed by the Pentagon through Sept. 30. These cases also are not reflected in the Pentagon's official tally of wounded, which stands at 30,327.

The number of brain-injury cases were tabulated from records kept by the VA and four military bases that house units that have served multiple combat tours in Iraq and Afghanistan.

One base released its count of brain injuries at a medical conference. The others provided their records at the request of USA TODAY, in some cases only after a Freedom of Information Act filing was submitted.

The data came from:

• Landstuhl Army Regional Medical Center in Germany, where troops evacuated from Iraq and Afghanistan for injury, illness or wounds are brought before going home. Since May 2006, more than 2,300 soldiers screened positive for brain injury, hospital spokeswoman Marie Shaw says.

• Fort Hood, Texas, home of the 4th Infantry Division, which returned from a second Iraq combat tour late last year. At least 2,700 soldiers suffered a combat brain injury, Lt. Col. Steve Stover says.

• Fort Carson, Colo., where more than 2,100 soldiers screened were found to have suffered a brain injury, according to remarks by Army Col. Heidi Terrio before a brain injury association seminar.

• Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton, where 1,737 Marines were found to have suffered a brain injury, according to Navy Cmdr. Martin Holland, a neurosurgeon with the Naval Medical Center San Diego.

• VA hospitals, where Iraq and Afghanistan veterans have been screened for combat brain injuries since April. The VA found about 20% of 61,285 surveyed — or 11,804 veterans — with signs of brain injury, spokeswoman Alison Aikele says. VA doctors say more evaluation is necessary before a true diagnosis of brain injury can be confirmed in all these cases, Aikele says.

Soldiers and Marines whose wounds were discovered after they left Iraq are not added to the official casualty list, says Army Col. Robert Labutta, a neurologist and brain injury consultant for the Pentagon.

"We are working to do a better job of reflecting accurate data in the official casualty table," Labutta says.

Most of the new cases involve mild or moderate brain injuries, commonly from exposure to blasts.

More than 150,000 troops may have suffered head injuries in combat, says Rep. Bill Pascrell, D-N.J., founder of the Congressional Brain Injury Task Force.

"I am wary that the number of brain-injured troops far exceeds the total number reported injured," he says.

About 1.5 million troops have served in Iraq, where traumatic brain injury can occur despite heavy body armor worn by troops.

Good grief. It just goes on and on. As will the pain and suffering of all these vets.

Thursday, November 22, 2007

Thanksgiving Day Open Thread.

Today, I am thankful. For...

... my health (now that it’s returning)… for my wonderful family, who still find a way to love me in spite of all the crap I’ve put them through… for the sound of my sons arriving home safe late at night, even when it's really late... for my wonderful job, with talented and dedicated and energetic colleagues and fabulous students… for my faith and my Friends… for being alive now, in this time, when so many things are going on and so much still seems possible… for music by people like John Coltrane and Hillary Hahn and Billy Bragg that makes my heart soar and which inspires me so… for the work of talented writers whose works make my mind soar… for baseball and for soccer… for being born here in the U.S.A. - seriously… for public libraries and for the wonderful people who work in them... for whoever invented the iPod… for grilled cheese sandwiches on whole wheat bread with a dill pickle and a pile of kettle chips on the side… for that matter, for Mack & Manco’s Pizza at the Jersey Shore… for the Jersey shore… for quiet bookstores and small, friendly, local restaurants... for strong, fresh coffee and for dark chocolate… for dogs, especially my dog… for anybody who takes the time what I write here, or at my blog… for all my blogging buddies, especially this crew here... for soft flannel shirts and old, well-worn sneakers... for the love of God in my life, which more than once has saved my life since I opened my heart up to it five years ago.

Have a wonderful day. And if you’re so moved, in between trips into the kitchen, say “thanks” here for whatever makes you feel thankful.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Still Fortunate After All These Wars

Do you want to know what I think about the U.S. military asking wounded soldiers to return the signing bonus incentive the military had offered them to get them to sign up for military service in the first place?

This is what I think...

More videos here, here, and here.
Some folks are born made to wave the flag,
Ooh, they're red, white and blue.
And when the band plays hail to the chief,
Ooh, they point the cannon at you, lord,

It ain't me, it aint me, I ain't no senators son, son.
It ain't me, it aint me; I ain't no fortunate one, no,

Some folks are born silver spoon in hand,
Lord, don't they help themselves, oh.
But when the taxman comes to the door,
Lord, the house looks like a rummage sale, yes,

It ain't me, it ain't me, I ain't no millionaires son, no.
It ain't me, it ain't me; I ain't no fortunate one, no.

Some folks inherit star spangled eyes,
Ooh, they send you down to war, lord,
And when you ask them, how much should we give?
Ooh, they only answer more! more! more! yoh,

It ain't me, it ain't me, I ain't no military son, son.
It ain't me, it ain't me; I ain't no fortunate one, one.

It ain't me, it ain't me, I ain't no fortunate one, no no no,
It ain't me, it ain't me, I ain't no fortunate son, no no no.

~Fortunate Son, CCR

Roy Zimmerman has similar thoughts...

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Thanks and Wishes

In the Thankful Spirit...

I am thankful for the writers, poets, dreamers, and artists
who reveal truth in ways that make it easier for all of us to see more clearly:

And for the sun in the morning, the moon at night,
and the simple things in life that make me a lucky girl:

And for Storytellers:

Dear friends:

The Kind and Generous who have made all the difference:

And the hope and promise of being homeward bound:

May we live lives that celebrate one another:

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Compassion in a Can

Yesterday, President Bush helped load boxes of fresh oranges, potatoes, and macaroni and cheese for distribution to the needy at a food bank in Charles City, Virginia. The food bank serves about 101,000 children, homeless, elderly, working poor, disabled, battered women, newly unemployed, victims of natural disasters, the mentally ill, and single-parent families each month, according to Faye Lohr, the food bank’s chief executive officer.

“I thank you for what you are doing,” Bush told Lohr.

But are food banks the answer to the problem of hunger?

Mark Winne tackled this question in his editorial, When Handouts Keep Coming, the Food Line Never Ends, in Sunday’s Washington Post. Winne writes:
Food banks are a dominant institution in this country, and they assert their power at the local and state levels by commanding the attention of people of good will who want to address hunger. Their ability to attract volunteers and to raise money approaches that of major hospitals and universities. While none of this is inherently wrong, it does distract the public and policymakers from the task of harnessing the political will needed to end hunger in the United States.

The risk is that the multibillion-dollar system of food banking has become such a pervasive force in the anti-hunger world, and so tied to its donors and its volunteers, that it cannot step back and ask if this is the best way to end hunger, food insecurity and their root cause, poverty.

During my tenure in Hartford, I often wondered what would happen if the collective energy that went into soliciting and distributing food were put into ending hunger and poverty instead. Surely it would have a sizable impact if 3,000 Hartford-area volunteers, led by some of Connecticut's most privileged and respected citizens, showed up one day at the state legislature, demanding enough resources to end hunger and poverty. Multiply those volunteers by three or four -- the number of volunteers in the state's other food banks and hundreds of emergency food sites -- and you would have enough people to dismantle the Connecticut state capitol brick by brick. Put all the emergency food volunteers and staff and board members from across the country on buses to Washington, to tell Congress to mandate a living wage, health care for all and adequate employment and child-care programs, and you would have a convoy that might stretch from New York City to our nation's capital.

I don’t write this to discourage you from giving to your local food bank or volunteering in a soup kitchen this Thanksgiving. They need your support as more and more of the working poor find themselves needing the help of their local pantry to make it through the end of the month. Some food banks are reporting increases in need of 10%, 20% and even 35% over last year. And with the prospect of skyrocketing home heating bills this winter, food banks that previously gave a week’s worth of food may only be able to provide for three or four days. So please be generous this Thanksgiving. But know this, the answer is not to build bigger food warehouses. As Winne concludes:

We know hunger's cause -- poverty. We know its solution -- end poverty. Let this Thanksgiving remind us of that task.

And we can count on our president to do his part…and pardon a couple of turkeys. At least they’ll eat well for the rest of their natural lives.

Now that just isn't natural...

For effortless feeding click on freerice and thehungersite.


Monday, November 19, 2007

Read This Again

Time to haul this back out. Things have changed since when I first wrote this post.
Mike Johanns has resigned as Secretary of Agriculture, as he thinks he can be the next Senator from Nebraska since Chuck Hagel is retiring. He's no Chuck Hagel let me say.
And without his less-than-firm-grasp on the Bill, there are now more pigs at the trough.

OpenLeft has brought to me the term "cornarchists" which I think sums it up pretty nicely.

The whole problem is going nowhere fast.
Anyway, like I said back in July. Take a look around.

Take a look around your neighborhood.

If you live anywhere urban or rural, chances are you see some hungry people on a daily basis. You may not know it right then and there, but sometime during your week you will have run across someone who themselves or their family is participating in the Food Stamp program, or is receiving aid from a Food Bank participating agency.

In my videos, I am just showing the slow and invisible problem in the heartland, and that problem is fairly large in rural farm areas. Larger than you'd think. When a disaster strikes, like Hurricane Katrina, the poor suffer even more. America's Second Harvest is STILL providing aid in overdrive to the Gulf region. 65.2 Million Meals to date.

Remember, all of this relief is private; not government funded in the least. So why am I harping on it? The Farm Bill will dictate how the private efforts go. And it's heating up. Next week, it's back in the House Committee on Agriculture. The Senate will talk about it too, and it's fortunate that Patrick Leahy (VT) is the chair on the sub committee for nutrition and food assistance.

Call and write these people. The food stamp program needs to be increased in eligibility requirements and overall spending, not decreased in any fashion.

Justice comes from the bottom, up.

Do you find it as odd as I do, that none of this is apparently newsworthy?

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Open Thread - Rainbow Infinity


Sunday, November 18, 2007

The Iraq News

'Limited' Accountability, Displaced Iraqis Ignored, Embassy Construction Update, Forget Poland, More

The war in Iraq was illegal. There was and still is gruesome carnage on a massive scale. Now it's an occupation, not a war. There's also a lot of fighting that looks like war, but, despite the air raids, bombed houses and buildings, missing limbs, mass graves and melted faces, it's really an occupation. It will end when we want it to. There can be no winners.

Currently the U.S. military death toll from the war that's over and the ongoing, current, happening now OCCUPATION stands at:

US Deaths in Iraq since March 20th, 2003

Here's the Iraq news:
  • Harry Reid actually said this: "We're going to continue to do the right thing for the American people by having limited accountability for the president and not a blank check." Thanks for that limited accountability, Harry! Give 'em limited Hell! Hopefully the number of Democratic senators who vote for you next time you stand for majority leader is very limited, like zero would be good.
  • 4.2 million displaced Iraqis are going ignored by the United States, Britain, Kuwait, and Saudi Arabia. Saudi Arabia plans to close it's border with Iraq by building a $2 billion fence.
  • The justice department is investigating why the budget for the biggest US embassy building in the world leaped from a staggering $592m to a brain-blistering $736m. The state department has no idea when it would be finished. Here's the answer--it'll be finished when we run out of money to funnel into it.
  • Cliff Schecter is an observant dude. Here's what he noticed about the British withdrawal from Basra: "Hmmm. Britain leaves, and there's a 90% drop in violence. What in the world could that mean? What can we learn? There must be a lesson in there somewhere. There must." Cliff also noticed that Poland, a country we were once warned not to forget, has decided to forget about helping us in Iraq.
  • Some people do not know when to shut up.
  • It's been two years since Rep. John Murtha called for redeployment. He wrote about it yesterday on Huffington Post.
It's not going to stop.

VIDEO: The show Inside Iraq looks back on their one year of covering the war and OCCUPATION torn nation. (part two here)

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Friday, November 16, 2007

The Quiet Hall of Dreams

Dream. (Traume.) Reverie. (Traumerei.)

Actually, dreams come true. I am still thinking this after my opinion that tonight's Democratic Candidate debate fell short of the mark I hold for them.

Nightmares do end you know, and in this particular musical case, the Dreamer who helped many people awake from their nightmare was this artist - Horowitz.

Watch, and most important, listen to the simplicity of this pre-Soviet-wall-falling-down performance, and then I want to tell you a couple other things about it:

1986 performance of Horowitz in Moscow. The first time the old man got to go home to Russia. In a gajillion years. (The next time in 1989 would be his last, allthough nobody knew it, except for maybe Vladimir himself.) He lived in New York City for ever, but really not. "Volodya" was truly a World Citizen, not only because of his world class artist status, but because he really worked at it.

Did you observe the quiet and reverence with which this encore was recieved? Did you observe the thoughtfulness of the audience, whereby they actually internalized a "dream" performance? There's a man chewing his glasses, a woman holding her head, yet all in a certain reverance. Did you catch that? The silence in the hall as everyone watches the old man is fraught with respect in my opinion. Stunning.

Here's the deal. Horowitz brought back to his native Russian family a picture of the world that was entirely inclusive. Modern. Not Fascist. Not Communist. Many of the folks in the video had family experience or were veterans of the Nazi siege against Moscow, and here we have Horowitz playing SCHUMANN, and these same people still regard Horowitz with love and reverance?

I know why they do. They are loving the Art, The Artist and sensing their new future, just around the corner. Because it WAS around the corner. Thos folks could tell they rounded a tipping point. There's a certain sublime trust of these ordinary Russians in an extraordinary Russian, come home to say simple things to them.

We need a similar moment for ourselves. Who will bring it?

Listen yourself for the simple American in the current cacophany.



Thursday, November 15, 2007

Bearing the Fruit of Fascist Theocracy

To protect citizen's health care rights, Washington state regulators ruled that pharmacists may not refuse to dispense any medication based on personal convictions. In Washington state, a pharmacy owner and two pharmacists sued the Washington State Department of Health because the ruling infringed on their right to deny any medication based on their personal beliefs.

In this case, the pharmacists have issues with "Plan B", the "morning after" birth control pill.
Plan B works by using high doses of common birth control medication to prevent implantation of a fertilized egg. Opponents regard it as a form of abortion. It is not the same as RU-486, the so called "abortion pill", and has no effect if a woman is already pregnant.
To my seemingly never ending irritation, these rogue pharmacists equate birth control with abortion, to which they seek to prevent access. I have already shared my views on abortion. Preventing access to legal birth control should be, in my view, illegal.

Last week a federal judge suspended the rule, to the delight of the rebel pharmacists who claimed it had violated their religious freedoms to obstruct women's ability to purchase critical medications in a safe and legal manner.
A preliminary injunction granted by U.S. District Judge Ronald B. Leighton prevents the state from disciplining pharmacists who refuse to dispense the medication, known as Plan B, as long as they immediately refer patients to nearby sources.
By allowing pharmacists to delay medication, the injunction enables pharmacists to render the medication ineffective:
The injunction creates a system in which pharmacists can refuse to fill a request for Plan B if they refer customers to a nearby source. But that could effectively deny the drugs completely to residents in rural areas, said Jet Tilley, spokeswoman for Planned Parenthood of the Inland Northwest. Advocates argue that women must have access to the medication as soon as possible for it to be effective.
Does this mean that rural women who are denied "Plan B" medication based on a pharmacist's personal conviction, are sent to look for legal medication elsewhere, try but are unable to obtain their legal medication in time for it to be effective, can sue the rogue pharmacist and pharmacy for 18 years of child support? I want to know the answer to that.

Fortunately, State Senator, Karen Keiser, D-Kent, is working to propose legislation that will prohibit pharmacists from denying access to legal medications.

As much as these events anger me, they fit right in with the "rampant sexism" that is institutionally supported by the Bush administration. Under Bush:
W. David Hager chairman of the FDA's Reproductive Health Drugs Advisory Committee does not prescribe contraceptives for single women, does not do abortions, will not prescribe RU-486 and will not insert IUDs. Hager believes that headaches, PMS and eating disorders can be cured by reading Scripture.
Predictably, Bush's FDA has been up to some real monkey business thwarting the makers of Plan-B in their quest for over-the-counter approval:

David Muir's report on the "morning-after" pill, or Plan B, on ABC's World News Tonight, included a conservative group's claim that allowing sales of the pill without a prescription would be unsafe, but provided no scientific evidence to support the claim, while omitting the fact that Food and Drug Administration (FDA) staff scientists and outside advisory panels have recommended that the FDA approve allowing over-the-counter sales.

And articles that confuse the whole issue don't help either:
And because Plan B can now be sold over the counter to most women and men 18 or older, he said, most people can get it without a pharmacist.
Excuse me but...the drug has been approved for sale, without a prescription, behind the counter, by pharmacists, to women who can prove they are at least 18 years of age--approval that this injunction allows pharmacists to ignore.

Welcome to Bush's Fascist Theocracy; we're soaking in it.

Thanks to my friend, Green Libertarian, who passed this news story along to me. I won't even mention what Ellie passed along. With friends like these, the rage never ends... peace.

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Wednesday, November 14, 2007

FISA Fightback!

Let's join Firedoglake, DailyKos and Chris Dodd in opposing FISA and Basket Warrants!
Here's a cool piece of technology:

When you click on the chart, you'll go to the Dodd site. When you click on any of the Senators "CALL THEM NOW" links, there's a place to put in your phone number and be connected! Very cool


Tuesday, November 13, 2007

The Orwellian Ditch

Laura Ingraham was a guest recently on 'The View.' I don't watch it because I envision a few things that might happen: a) I would be stalking that stupid Hasselbeck chick to find the best time to kidnap her for reprogramming; b) I'd spend a fortune in writing Barbara WaWa daily to tell her to STFU! Oh yeah, then, there's that dummy who didn't know the earth wasn't flat. I'm digressing.......dammit.

So Laura Ingraham was on 'The View' as a guest, and she was whoring her new book, 'Power to the People.' Now. I hear the title and I want to start singing this - John Lennon's song: "Power to the People."

Nope - that's not it accordingly to Ingraham.

All right then - decidedly - she must be alluding to these guyz, ya know, the Black Panthers - the original "Power to the People" folks. Whoopi Goldberg points out that 'Power to the People' originated with the Black Panthers.

Ingraham says she "stole it back....returning power to the people of this country, not just an elite few, protesters, and the Black Panthers . . . . . a lot of people in this country feel disenfranchised - the heartland of America feels disenfranchised.' Her logic just seems fucking idiotic.

The heartland of America feels disenfranchised?

Disenfranchised means being deprived of the rights of citizenship, specifically the right to vote - as Whoopi points outs, it was black folks seeking and registering to vote. The Laura Ingrahams, the Wordsmiths of this world aren't disenfranchised. We're white, although as women it did take a tad longer, I will give it that. We, however, are NOT disenfranchised.

Therein lies the bullshit of coopting words and phrases that flows right into that Orwellian ditch. Ingraham appears to have it mean that the heartland voters (white voters) are being disenfranchised because their culture is losing to outside forces. Their votes don't mean anything any longer. Their folks aren't winning. Now if Ingraham means the ReThugs, the Theocrats, the Wussies who play dirty then cry foul when someone other than them does it and they get caught - yeah, absolutely more POWER TO THE DAMNED PEOPLE. They're not fucking disenfranchised! They are losing because people are sick of the autocratic, theocratic, lying bastards and their bullshit. Or maybe that's just me. Am I missing some valuable invisible point?

So, what I want is a discussion on how they (those fucking neocons and the like) coopt language to have it mean the direct opposite of what it has meant or have stolen phrases, etc., and attempted to make them their own as Laura Ingraham is attempting with her new book. Because this is pissing me OFF! Aren't there more words, more bullshit to throw in the ditch that these hucksters have been using? No more - I'm sick of it.


Monday, November 12, 2007

Nixing Nick News?

The thing with catching snippets of a 'story' on one of the cable news channels for me is thinking it's actually a story.

linda-ellerbee-small.jpgCNN had a bit on the show Linda Ellerbee 'anchors' on Nickelodeon, 'Nick News' -nicknews-logo.gif specifically one show recently that highlighted some kids with consciences, and the actions they were taking in their community. Using the magic of "The Google" I found that the paucity of websites and/or blogs railing on about all of this were the wingnut lunatics on their precarious fringe.

Kevin Hayden at 'The American Street' had the goods earlier this month; he also has the links to those wingnut lunatics on their precarious fringe. I absolutely refuse to link to them. Fuck 'em. It's not enough that they practically rule the airwaves with their bullshit anyway. Anything with depth, anything requiring cognitive skills, anything that deviates from their fear-riddled 'the terrorists are on the outskirts of town' bullshit, they just cannot tolerate.

As one young woman says, 'kids younger than me shouldn't be making my clothes.'

Watch it - the entire video is 21 minutes and features several kids. It is indeed inspiring.

Rebels With a Cause

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Crosspost: Left Side of the Moon

Sunday, November 11, 2007

As a Veteran.....

Without going into the judgmental specifics, I was 'required' to go into the military because my parents used the thousands of dollars I had saved for college by working summer farm labors jobs, as well as a factory job one summer. By my logic at the time, I figured at the very least I would have a trade (x-ray technician) plus have the availability of the G.I. Bill for college. And, that's what I got.

I got more of course. We all have great stories about the camaraderie, the drinking, the drugging, the spit-shined shoes, and all that shit you learned in basic. Something today reminded me we had a class in topography; that's not something I often remember. When I enlisted the Vietnam War had just been declared 'over.' It officially ended two years after my enlistment. I had 'call' the day Nixon resigned. We watched it on TV in the ER with a set we'd taken from an empty room off the Surgery floor. It was the middle of the night where we were. We didn't care; we still cheered.

The military I was part of it was very diverse. Many were drafted, some were volunteers, as were the women most certainly where we got stuck in something called the WAC, an extension of those women afore us - WAAC; it assimilated into the regular Army in 1978. There didn't seem to be any paucity of opinions. There was the gamut from gung-ho, taps on their heels to people who barely knew which insignia went where. I just figured it was a reflection of life elsewhere.

All in all after leaving the military except for the using the G.I. Bill to get through college, I spent little time thinking or paying attention to what was going in the military. In the mid-1990s I got a job with the VA hospital here. While employed there in the process of dealing with others who were coming to the hospital for the drug/alcohol treatment program, I realized that I was certainly drinking as much as if not more than those entering treatment. Which meant - if they were considered alcoholic, fucking druggies - thennn.....

I inquired about entering the program at our VA. As it was geared primarily for male veterans I was referred to a woman at the Vets Center in town. She was wonderful. She knew of a specific program for women at a VA hospital in Ohio. Once I was accepted, then all I had to do was come up with transportation to and from Ohio. How much of a coincidence was it that my income tax refund would be enough to cover a plane ticket to & from Ohio? And - when it looked as though my refund may not get to me in time, the senator's office who helped was none other than Mr. Wide Stance himself.

The night before I reported to the hospital, I smoked a joint that I had managed to smuggle cross country on the airplane and drank a 6-pack of some Ohio beer with a cool name for ole' times sake and as a fitting send-off.

The women's program was 30 days. It entailed a place to stay with three meals a day. We attended group therapy twice daily, individual sessions once or twice a week. There were others types of therapy - occupational, physical, and art therapies. We learned about ourselves and each other, our addictions, and what it was going to take to stay sober. Some folks focused on memorizing the Big Book; I focused on worrying over how the fuck I was going to live without being bored since I couldn't drink or drug any longer. However, I also knew that nothing would get any better or change if I didn't change it. I also knew I couldn't return to home after a mere 30 days (it was closer to 45) because I knew the first time I walked into an Albertson's I'd head straight for the beer freezer.

On the referral of the those who ran women's program, I applied to another program - 'Recovery Skills Program' (RSP) - which was co-ed.' It was a 3-month program of initially more of the same for me. Group therapy twice daily, individual therapy once or twice a week; and other kinds of therapy to fill in the time. Due to some time lag with the next cycle starting . . . . yadda ya - I ended up waiting another three months before the next cycle of RSP. In the interim, I lived in a homeless shelter for women (for 2-1/2 months) and spent my days at the VA, attending outpatient group therapy, etc. Finally into RSP for 3 months and more therapy. Then RSP concluded and as I was essentially homeless I stayed at the Domiciliary at the VA for a few months. And again I continued to attend group therapy, individual therapy, and other stuff. All in all from the time I entered the women's program until the time I left the Domiciliary, 11 months had elapsed. Eleven months of fucking therapy!

While at the Dom, I got a job at a local hospital, part-time. I eventually managed to get into a three-quarter house for women, eventually got an apartment, and eventually started college again to finish my degree while employed full-time. All the while I continued to attend outpatient group therapy twice a week with an individual session thrown in on one of those days. It all concluded just over three years from the time I had entered the women's program.

That was 12 years ago. I'm still sober.

When I talk about my sobriety, I never fail to start out with how very fortunate I am in being a veteran because as a result of that, I was able to get the therapy I needed, truly - truly.

I wish the same for every veteran as well. I really do.

- VA - Women

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Saturday, November 10, 2007

House Sitting (Open Thread)


Actually it's puppy sitting. The puppy, a 9-week old Golden Retriever puppy named Sam (Sami-Miami) isn't afraid of being alone. My sister is afraid of leaving him alone in the house while they're out-of-state over the weekend. Although the picture below shows him in the living room shortly after the carpets were cleaned and had dried, he is currently restricted to uncarpeted areas of the house when unsupervised. Even supervised, we've been reducing to yelling - whadya mean you're peeing on the floor! You just came in from being outside for two hours! (Plus the thundering in with his rag doll through the pet door leading to the patio. He saunters out more gingerly because of the step down.)

Sam gently attached himself to Cierra, my granddaughter, because SHE was his size. I wish you could have seen his face when she walked into the room. His entire little body just lit up. I still chuckle over it, it was so endearing.


Then there's the cats . . . . Duke and Madeline. Madeline is in the window below watching them drive off. She was pissed and demanded to know, 'What do you mean leaving me here with this . . . . thing!'

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Friday, November 09, 2007

Open Thread

In honor of a certain paper being finished, this is an open thread in honor of you-know-who

Thursday, November 08, 2007

Khadr Trial Begins

Defense Claims Exculpatory Evidence Suppressed

From The trial of Omar Khadr began today with his military defense claiming foul play on the part of the prosecution.
The U.S. government has withheld information about a witness who could help clear Canadian Omar Khadr as an "unlawful enemy combatant," Khadr's military defence lawyer at Guantanamo Bay said Thursday.

"It's an eyewitness the government has always known about," Lt.-Cmdr. Bill Kuebler told reporters. "This is something that was buried because nobody ever looked."
Khadr — who is the only Canadian held at Guantanamo prison and was 15 at the time of his capture in 2002 — is accused of murder in the death of U.S. medic Sgt. First Class Christopher J. Speer in Afghanistan. He is also charged with spying, conspiracy and supporting terrorism.

Kuebler said U.S. officials never bothered to speak to the witness and the prosecution didn't find out about him until recently.

"The significant fact is that the government made us aware of this at the last minute and wanted to go forward with this thing today … notwithstanding being told repeatedly by the military judge that it was not proper," Kuebler told reporters at the base.

"It shows how anxious they are to get this validated and get it moving."
Correct me if I'm wrong, but in the real justice system withholding evidence would land the prosecution in a huge mess of trouble, and the lead attorney would be facing disciplinary measures. But this isn't the real justice system, this is a military tribunal set up under the odious, unconstitutional Military Commissions Act. A previous attempt to bring Khadr to trial was denied by the presiding Judge Col. Peter Brownback. (hmm...hope he isn't related) Where was I? .. oh yeah, denied because the prosecution presented Khadr to the court as 'an enemy combatant.' For the court to have jurisdiction he had to be re-designated 'an unlawful enemy combatant' under the MCA.

Odd that they should be splitting such hairs considering the entire MCA is unconstitutional (though how one would determine that with the Supreme Court refusing to rule on any test case is another question.) In point of plain fact, the rights that Khadr should have had under both US and international law have been denied him. This entire process is to legal what _________is to ___________. I'll let you guys come up with an analogy in comments.
The trial is taking place without one of Khadr's Canadian lawyers present. Dennis Edney told CBC News on Thursday that the U.S. defence lawyer, Kuebler, barred him from the proceedings because of his criticism of the process, as well as Kuebler's own preparedness and qualifications.

The defence has not interviewed a single prosecution witness, Edney said, while the prosecution has been preparing for the trial for the past two years.

"We have said the military defence lawyers are not ready for trial," Edney said from Edmonton. "We put that in writing to them time and time again.

"My guess? They don't like to be criticized."
My guess? They're looking for the same kangaroo court result they got in Australian David Hicks' case. IOW, threaten, bully and terrorize the 'suspect' into a guilty plea so they can say, "see - we're making progress in the war on terrorism." It's all an exercise in finding something they can put on FOX "news", after all.

Khadr is exhibiting signs of the same complacent Stockholm syndrome that Hicks showed, so the strategy is apparently working so far.
Khadr, whose family lives in the Toronto area, entered the court in the morning dressed in white prison garb. The colour is an indication of a detainee's "highly compliant" status, the CBC's Alison Smith reported from Guantanamo.
During the morning's proceedings, Khadr appeared co-operative with court authorities and told the presiding judge that he accepted Kuebler as his main defence counsel.
But didn't we just hear that Kuebler was totally unprepared? What grieves me the most is that the Bush-licking Canadian government of Stephen Harper is so silent about this. I really wish the international community would do more to hold this administration responsible for at least the crimes that extend beyond US borders. Tell them they won a free vacation in The Hague, Switzerland or something. They're dumb enough, they might just go for it.

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Count On Yahoo!

To Sell You Out

Sometimes business just gets in the way of democracy.

Just ask the people running that second rate search engine Yahoo!

When they were confronted with the possibility of alienating a massive client--the People's Republic of China--Yahoo! decided they would be better served to hand over the information of a pro-democracy journalist than defend the principles our country was founded on. Well, why should they be the only one?

That journalist--Shi Tao--he's now serving a decade in prison.

Thanks, Yahoo! You jerks.

Yesterday, Yahoo's CEO Jerry Yang executive vice president Michael Callahan faced the House Committee on Foreign Affairs.

Al Jazeera English covered the hearing.

To Yang and Yahoo's partial credit, they apologized. Maybe Shi's mother can console herself with that apology while her son rots in a Chinese jail through 2015.

Committee chair Tom Lantos had the line of the century, but first he built up to it:
A company of Yahoo’s resources should have taken every conceivable step to prevent the automatic compliance with a request from the Chinese police apparatus.

To this day, Yahoo has failed to change any of its practices in order to prevent such collaboration.

While Mr. Callahan may not have known the relevant facts, other Yahoo employees, in fact, did know the nature of the Chinese investigation against Shi Tao prior to our committee hearing. (Yahoo’s actions were) spineless and irresponsible.

I do not believe that America’s best and brightest companies should be playing integral roles in China’s notorious and brutal political repression apparatus.

Much of this testimony reveals that while technologically and financially you are giants, morally you are pygmies.
In 2005, the Chinese government had Shi arrested after he posted a warning about a crackdown on Chinese dissidents returning to mainland China during the 15th anniversary of the Tiananmen Square Protests. Shi used his Yahoo email account to send a warning to the website for the Asia Democracy Foundation.

Beijing police found Shi by using information provided by Yahoo, the committee said.Yahoo's senior vice president Michael Callahan testified last year that Yahoo didn't know why the Chinese government asked the company for personal information about Shi.

In June, Shi's mother accepted the Golden Pen of Freedom on behalf of her son (video here).

Yahoo is trying to have a lawsuit filed in Northern California that accuses Yahoo of violating U.S. and international law when they provided the Chinese government with the information that led to the arrest of Shi and other dissidents.

The BBC looks at some of China's activists including Shi.

Amnesty International has a campaign on Shi's behalf here.

By the way something, if any pygmies were insulted by Lantos's line... I'm sure the Republicans will make him apologize real soon.

UPDATE: Turns out pygmy is a rather insulting term. I didn't know that. Thanks to Tireiron Chef for schooling me. I'd edit the post, but then you wouldn't know what this update was all about. Still Yahoo! are jerks and Lantos did a good thing by calling them out. Next time, just do what I do and call them assholes. You can do that on the floor of the Senate right?

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"Happy" Veterans' Day?

Veterans' Day is this Sunday. Try to remember the following when you go out to hit those sales:

WASHINGTON (AP) Nov. 7, 2007:
Veterans make up one in four homeless people in the United States, though they are only 11 percent of the general adult population, according to a report to be released Thursday.

And homelessness is not just a problem among middle-age and elderly veterans. Younger veterans from Iraq and Afghanistan are trickling into shelters and soup kitchens seeking services, treatment or help with finding a job.

The Veterans Affairs Department has identified 1,500 homeless veterans from the current wars and says 400 of them have participated in its programs specifically targeting homelessness.

The National Alliance to End Homelessness, a public education nonprofit, based the findings of its report on numbers from Veterans Affairs and the Census Bureau. 2005 data estimated that 194,254 homeless people out of 744,313 on any given night were veterans.

In comparison, the VA says that 20 years ago, the estimated number of veterans who were homeless on any given night was 250,000.

Some advocates say the early presence of veterans from Iraq and Afghanistan at shelters does not bode well for the future. It took roughly a decade for the lives of Vietnam veterans to unravel to the point that they started showing up among the homeless. Advocates worry that intense and repeated deployments leave newer veterans particularly vulnerable.

"We're going to be having a tsunami of them eventually because the mental health toll from this war is enormous," said Daniel Tooth, director of veterans affairs for Lancaster County, Pa.
The rest is here, at The Huffington Post.

My late father served in the United States Navy during the Korean War. His dad sailed around the world with The Great White Fleet. My late father-in-law fought the Nazis as an artillery man during the last year of World War Two. My uncle served four years on a tin can in the Pacific: he signed up the day after Pearl Harbor. This past summer, I spent a lot of time interviewing World War Two vets for the young adult novel I'm writing about conscientious objectors who served as combat medics in Europe (and as smoke jumpers here at home) during World War II. While I call myself a pacifist, and while I detest and abhor war - ALL war - I respect and appreciate the sacrifices and service of our veterans, even when they serve in conflicts with which I disagree. Which would pretty much be all conflicts. No matter where you stand on the subject of war, THIS story is an utter and complete outrage. I would challenge everyone who reads it to link to the article and to send that link to their elected members of Congress this weekend, just in time for the "holiday" we set aside each year to honor our vets. Add a simple line: "What are YOU going to do about this?"

Make them give you an answer. Something more than "I support our troops."

We need to do better. And we need to end the senseless conflicts which lead to such long-lasting pain and suffering.

Pray for peace on Sunday (or Friday or Saturday). And work for it, too.