“Soft despotism is a term coined by Alexis de Tocqueville describing the state into which a country overrun by "a network of small complicated rules" might degrade. Soft despotism is different from despotism (also called 'hard despotism') in the sense that it is not obvious to the people."

Monday, March 05, 2007

The Miserable Failure of Supporting the Troops.

It is too late for apologies, and firing a few more people is not going to do much. Where is the honor? Where are the resignations? Where is the money and taxes to pay what is due? Where is the courage? Where are the flag waiving cheer leaders? Where is The Rush Limbaugh Rehabilitation Center? Where are the rock group concerts? Where are all those that know better? Where are our masters and the professional political class and media that have reduced the United States of America to being worried about Anna Nicole Smith?

Answer the questions. How many are wounded? What are the injuries? Where are they? What is the cost?

And to our rulers and masters, pay for the bills with current funds and transfer these unfortunate patriotic veterans to the best hospitals and facilities in their local communities and pay the bills till the job is done.

'It Is Just Not Walter Reed'
Soldiers Share Troubling Stories Of Military Health Care Across U.S.

By Anne Hull and Dana Priest
Washington Post Staff Writers
Monday, March 5, 2007; Page A01

Ray Oliva went into the spare bedroom in his home in Kelseyville, Calif., to wrestle with his feelings. He didn't know a single soldier at Walter Reed, but he felt he knew them all. He worried about the wounded who were entering the world of military health care, which he knew all too well. His own VA hospital in Livermore was a mess. The gown he wore was torn. The wheelchairs were old and broken.

"It is just not Walter Reed," Oliva slowly tapped out on his keyboard at 4:23 in the afternoon on Friday. "The VA hospitals are not good either except for the staff who work so hard. It brings tears to my eyes when I see my brothers and sisters having to deal with these conditions. I am 70 years old, some say older than dirt but when I am with my brothers and sisters we become one and are made whole again."

Oliva is but one quaking voice in a vast outpouring of accounts filled with emotion and anger about the mistreatment of wounded outpatients at Walter Reed Army Medical Center. Stories of neglect and substandard care have flooded in from soldiers, their family members, veterans, doctors and nurses working inside the system. They describe depressing living conditions for outpatients at other military bases around the country, from Fort Lewis in Washington state to Fort Dix in New Jersey. They tell stories -- their own versions, not verified -- of callous responses to combat stress and a system ill equipped to handle another generation of psychologically scarred vets.

The official reaction to the revelations at Walter Reed has been swift, and it has exposed the potential political costs of ignoring Oliva's 24.3 million comrades -- America's veterans -- many of whom are among the last standing supporters of the Iraq war. In just two weeks, the Army secretary has been fired, a two-star general relieved of command and two special commissions appointed; congressional subcommittees are lining up for hearings, the first today at Walter Reed; and the president, in his weekly radio address, redoubled promises to do right by the all-volunteer force, 1.5 million of whom have fought in Iraq and Afghanistan.


  1. Jerry Newberry over at Townhall raises a pertinent question regarding Walter Reed: sure, there's outrage - but how long exactly is it going to last? Once the public turn off their radios and the news, once the papers cycle through, how long more will this "outrage" over the military and its inadequacies continue before it is all forgotten?

    Newberry suggests demoting and firing those responsible for dereliction of duty. Again, how long before momentum runs out?

  2. This comment has been removed by the author.

  3. Unlike most of you, I, actually, use the VA. In my estimation, it works pretty good. The people work hard, are pleasant, and do a good job. The facilities, like all hospitals (even private,) it seems, are not kept up as well as they should be.

    GUYS, It's a GOVERNMENT Operation.

    Most of you guys have been in the service. Remember? Remember what it was like? How many of you got to Vietnam and found out that whatever tenuous connection you had to the "Eagle," it was now broken, and mr. Paymaster had just decided that you had died and gone straight to "Never has Existed."

    It's the military, guys. Some people screwed up, and are getting fired. Kudos to the reporter that broke this story, and to the blogs that kept it alive. Maybe this will lead to a little tightening up in the outpatient, emotionally damaged area. Here's hoping.

    BTW, all you Dems out there; Are you sure you want Socialized Health Care?

  4. For what it's worth, I have had mostly positive experiences with military healthcare over the past 16 years.

    My first child was born premature and spent the first 60 days in the hospital, including 30 days at Duke University Med Center. I didn't have to pay a penny for any of this, but more imprtantly, I felt that we had excellent access to the best health care.

    FOr routine things my family deals with (ie sick kids, etc) the healthcare system is pretty good as well. My daughter is sick this morning, so my wife wants her to be seen; she called this morning and got an appointment for this afternoon.

    As for me, I have never been hurt or sick to the point requiring hospitalization, but for the routine things I have had to go in for, and for all my dental work, I cannot honestly complain about the healthcare system here.

    THere are Congressional heariings getting ready to start on Walter Reed, so hopefully many of the problems will get fixed over the next few weeks at that location. We'll see. . .

  5. You come home from War to hospitals you've got, not the ones you wish you had.

    Six or more years of neglect has led to this meltdown of servies in the Army Medical Corps.

    Piss poor performance.

    It is systematic.
    Proven by performance, piss poor performance, across the Federal mandate.

    From Baghdad to Boston
    The Middle East to the Southern Frontier.
    A Ship of Fools

  6. I was hospitalized while in the miliatry. I never suffered catastrophic injuries. I had no complaint with my care.

    Modern warfare and medical treatment produces more survivors and more head injuries. traumatic head injuries (THI) are complex and can range from subtle to the trult catastrophic. One can end up with total awareness and yet be only able to communicate with the outside world by blinking an eye. Some victims exist with total recollection of their life prior to the injury but constantly live in the last three minutes with no memory of what happened four minutes ago. That never changes.

    I have long experience in all aspects of dealing with survivors and medical treatment of traumatic head injury. It is a very long process. It is a life long saga for patient and family.

    The better the care, the better the outcome. There are superb facilities throughout the nation for such short and long term care. It is often a life-long committment that places severe financial and emotional burdens and responsibilities on the families.

    It is expensive and way beyond the ability of the military medical system. Their mission is to provide immediate care and ensure survivability. THI victims require a lifelong advocacy that is beyond the whims of federal bureaucracy and budgets. This is beyond their pay grade.

    The injured deserve as much and more care than someone injured on a motor cycle while not wearing a helmet. They deserve financial resources as good as those extracted from the system by lawyers who scam the system like Senator John Edwards.

    We do not need another bullshit commission. We need a fix.

    The public needs a reality check on what the real costs of war are and the injured veterans and their families need the life-long help.

  7. Why, duece, casualties are of little concern, you know most of the wounded are back on duty in under 72 hours.

    I've been told that, many a time, when expressing concern for the wounded, amongst the blogs.

    Back on duty, in Building 18, inspection's at dawn.

  8. This morning Bill Kristol was on Fox giving his "Conservative" opinion of what would fix the problems of military medicine: Money. Money. Money.

    That's just great! Let's give the same people and bureaucracies responsible for years of neglect more money. Congress will just love that, in a bipartisan way.

    Deuce, you asked about honor. There is none: certainly not among the glee clubs that consider themselves conservative and/or military blogs. They could not bring themselves to say "sh*t", despite having a mouthful. Of course, now that Henry Waxman is on the tube beating hell out of the administration with its own documents, we will be treated by these same blogs to more of the ever popular Henry Waxman nose jokes.

  9. Sorry, I failed to say scum sucking, bottom feeding, flag draped, Bible thumping, conservative/milbloggers. I just wanted to be clear on where I stood.

  10. We should demand a 10% wage reduction for all governmental employees making over $159,000

    These funds should go directly to funding better care of our boys and girls in medical need.

    This being said.

    Where were the shift supervisors?

    Where were the workers FROM that building?

    This did not happen in a day....

    Should there not be accountablity from all levels?

    people who had JOBS went into those rooms and cleaned, fixed and maintained them, nurses, doctors!

    is there no standard?

    was there or is there no hotline for reporting gross violations?

    Now, let's ask the same thing of our inner city schools, our mental institutions as well...

    is the problem unique?

  11. KABUL, Afghanistan (Associated Press) -- Afghanistan's 2007 opium poppy cultivation could expand again after a record crop last year, the U.N. drug agency said Monday, underlining the weakness of an international-backed drive against the country's booming narcotics trade.

    A report from the world body's Office on Drugs and Crime predicted a "sharp increase" in production in several provinces, including southern Helmand _ Afghanistan's largest poppy-growing region and an area wracked by growing Taliban attacks.

  12. trish said...
    "We're not in mortal peril."

    Well, don't tell the bed-wetters.

    Mon Mar 05, 12:41:00 AM EST

    Always work within your core knowledge base, Trish.

  13. Most of those concerns you mention "o" are local.
    The mental health facilities are a County & State concern, not a Federal one. Sames goes for the schools, to enhance the Federals input into the education monopolies is a fools errand.

    The Federals have their own responsibilities, at which they perform poorly, why advocate for expanding the dysfunction?

  14. what is occupation,

    re: Where were they?

    Keeping their jobs by keeping their mouths shut, is what the responsible parties were doing. Most people are bi-pedal sheep, finding safety in the herd. Sheep have no sense of honor to speak of.

    Here is a question: where was JACHO? You know that outfit that is supposed to keep medical facilities walking the strait and narrow?

    Here is another: Where was the Army Inspector General? That would be the office responsible for objectively investigating cases of fraud, waste, and abuse.

    Oh, and, where were the service organizations? That would include the DAV, VFW, and American Legion. Whether meaningful or not, the field officers of these organizations are housed in government paid offices and drive government licensed vehicles. They are also often former employees of VA.

  15. " Valor and Squalor

    Published: March 5, 2007

    When Salon, the online magazine, reported on mistreatment of veterans at the Walter Reed Army Medical Center two years ago, officials simply denied that there were any problems. And they initially tried to brush off last month’s exposé in The Washington Post.

    But this time, with President Bush’s approval at 29 percent, Democrats in control of Congress, and Donald Rumsfeld no longer defense secretary — Robert Gates, his successor, appears genuinely distressed at the situation — the whitewash didn’t stick.

    Yet even now it’s not clear whether the public will be told the full story, which is that the horrors of Walter Reed’s outpatient unit are no aberration. For all its cries of “support the troops,” the Bush administration has treated veterans’ medical care the same way it treats everything else: nickel-and-diming the needy, protecting the incompetent and privatizing everything it can.

    What makes this a particular shame is that in the Clinton years, veterans’ health care — like the Federal Emergency Management Agency — became a shining example of how good leadership can revitalize a troubled government program. By the early years of this decade the Veterans Health Administration was, by many measures, providing the highest-quality health care in America. (It probably still is: Walter Reed is a military facility, not run by the V.H.A.)

    But as with FEMA, the Bush administration has done all it can to undermine that achievement. And the Walter Reed scandal is another Hurricane Katrina: the moment when the administration’s misgovernment became obvious to everyone.

    The problem starts with money. The administration uses carefully cooked numbers to pretend that it has been generous to veterans, but the historical data contained in its own budget for fiscal 2008 tell the true story. The quagmire in Iraq has vastly increased the demands on the Veterans Administration, yet since 2001 federal outlays for veterans’ medical care have actually lagged behind overall national health spending.

    To save money, the administration has been charging veterans for many formerly free services. For example, in 2005 Salon reported that some Walter Reed patients were forced to pay hundreds of dollars each month for their meals.

    More important, the administration has broken longstanding promises of lifetime health care to those who defend our nation. Two months before the invasion of Iraq the V.H.A., which previously offered care to all veterans, introduced severe new restrictions on who is entitled to enroll in its health care system. As the agency’s Web site helpfully explains, veterans whose income exceeds as little as $27,790 a year, and who lack “special eligibilities such as a compensable service connected condition or recent combat service,” will be turned away.

    So when you hear stories of veterans who spend months or years fighting to get the care they deserve, trying to prove that their injuries are service-related, remember this: all this red tape was created not by the inherent inefficiency of government bureaucracy, but by the Bush administration’s penny-pinching.

    But money is only part of the problem.

    We know from Hurricane Katrina postmortems that one of the factors degrading FEMA’s effectiveness was the Bush administration’s relentless push to outsource and privatize disaster management, which demoralized government employees and drove away many of the agency’s most experienced professionals. It appears that the same thing has been happening to veterans’ care.

    The redoubtable Henry Waxman, chairman of the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, points out that IAP Worldwide Services, a company run by two former Halliburton executives, received a large contract to run Walter Reed under suspicious circumstances: the Army reversed the results of an audit concluding that government employees could do the job more cheaply.

    And Mr. Waxman, who will be holding a hearing on the issue today, appears to have solid evidence, including an internal Walter Reed memo from last year, that the prospect of privatization led to a FEMA-type exodus of skilled personnel.

    What comes next? Francis J. Harvey, who as far as I can tell was the first defense contractor appointed secretary of the Army, has been forced out. But the parallels between what happened at Walter Reed and what happened to New Orleans — not to mention parallels with the mother of all scandals, the failed reconstruction of Iraq — tell us that the roots of the scandal run far deeper than the actions of a few bad men."

  16. ash,

    re: VA

    I am no friend of VA, but Krugman has proven he knows as little about VA as most other things.

    For instance, it is a matter of settled law, and has been for years, that veterans are NOT entitled to lifetime healthcare. Indeed, the cost of caring for non-service connected veterans is one of the reasons that those with service connected disabilities cannot get adequate funding.

  17. Allen you are correct, there are so many people that are gaming the system. I know of two who were at Chu Lai, and for that reason and that reason alone were able to get disabilities for agent orange exposure, and neither of them were in the field and exposed to it.

  18. The very “Conservative” Ms. Malkin takes a hard line on the Walter Reed scandal:

    “Newsflash: Government-run health care sucks” and “Like I said when the WaPo series was launched, these failures are damnable--and nothing new.”

    Wow. Then why blog about almost anything; because, here’s a news flash darlin’, it’s an imperfect world - always has been – “and nothing new.”

    You can bet your sweet bippie that Michelle would be far less cavalier if this mess had been found on Clinton’s watch. Apparently, Ms. Malkin’s indignation is not morally based; rather, right and wrong are dependent upon party affiliation. In short, screw the troops, if HER president’s administration looks bad.

    Ms. Malkin takes no comments on her blog.

    Oh, and just to be clear, I wish Ms. Malkin would give us a clue as to where she would have wounded troops treated. I know when I think massive brain injury, I think “Houston County Regional Medical Center”. That’s Houston County, Georgia, not Houston, Texas.

    For some things, military docs can’t be beat, socialistic though the system may be. Hmm…Now that I think about it, Michelle, why not privatize the military? Yeah, that’s the ticket.

  19. They already did, allen, in 1973 with the end of the draft.

  20. The Military is now more like the Post Office, than not.

  21. Deuce,

    I am not trying to be judgmental about disabilities.

    You mentioned Vietnam. Well, there was no safe job or safe place there. Granted, there were jobs far more dangerous than others on a day-to-day basis; but the bastards could and reach out and touch you anywhere. So, I try to give maximum benefit of doubt, just as I will about kids serving now in logistics and on the line. People react differently to stress, and war zones are inherently stressful.

    I seriously doubt that troops are less well served under this administration than any other. Whether the VA is better than it has been is the matter of personal perspective. But, if ever there was an administration that needed to take care, this is it. After all its hype about giving nothing but the best, to be caught so red-handedly is indescribably stupid. All of which, then, naturally, leads one to wonder about all manner of other indescribably stupid possibilities. And all this distraction is occurring while the United States is engaged in a world war, if geography is meaningful.

    The United States needs leadership. The only person saying anything even remotely useful is John Bolton; and he just hasn’t the audience share to make a difference.

  22. DR,

    re: Post Office

    You are kidding? Right?

  23. Ash settles it for me:
    Simply take the exact opposite of what Krugman says to be true.

    That has given me a 100% record so far.

    As Rush points out, the Congress filled with Grandstanders like Schummer, has oversight.
    For Base closures they dealt off their responsibility to a commission, now Schumer wants another "independent bipartisan" commission filled with BS "bipartisans" like Powell.

  24. BTW,
    Rush gives generously to a Marine services organization, and raises Millions each year for Leukemia Research and then throws in a bunch more.
    He simply doesn't grandstand whenever he can about it like Schumer, who, like Kristol, is always happy to propose Spending OTHER PEOPLE'S MONEY.

  25. As Deuce points out, there are a Hell of a bunch more survivors with serious injuries than ever before.
    The average GI with Woodruff's injury would never be in the shape he is in, which borders on the miraculous.

    Here's a bunch of ABC video links:

    Lee Woodruff's Story

    The Explosion

    Regaining Conciousness 2-27-07

    Woodruff's Comeback

    ABC has a bunch of new Woodruff links here

    Are Veterans Receiving the Level of Care They Deserve?

  26. Send Schumer to one of the Emergency rooms closed by the illegal invasion.
    ...that would be ALL of the emergency rooms in South LA.

  27. Anatomy of a Suicide Attack

    The tape shows the suicide bomber building his own bomb, arranging the mortars and land mines in a decorative metal chest.

    "This is a very compelling statement for how simple it is for the Taliban to hurt us in Afghanistan," Alexis Debat, a senior fellow at the Nixon Center and now an ABC News consultant, said.

    "The child is making the bomb, the explosive that is about to kill him, and yet he has such an amazing peaceful look on his face."

    The chest is shown in the back of the Toyota, wired to a set of switches on the console next to the driver's seat.

    The suicide bomber is shown driving away from a compound of mud buildings.

    "There are hundreds if not thousands of people like this, not just in Afghanistan, but in Pakistan, Iraq and Yemen," Debat said of the suicide bomber on the tape.

    "This is what al Qaeda wants us to know."

  28. Mr Cheney, while hunting in Texas, had a ambulance predispatched to his location, luckily for his lawyer.

    Who'd have guessed that Mr Cheneys' health is so poor that, as an outpatient, he requires an on call ambulance at his location, 24/7, while not in DC?
    Mr Cheney, once again, just a little more equal than others.

    Blood thinners and booze,
    wonder if his Doctor and Anna Nicoles' studied together?

  29. DR,

    re: Cheney

    He IS the Vice-President.

    Have you a medical report of some sort indicating a dangerously elevated level of alcohol?

  30. Just a little something else for a'Q to think about:
    Bad Boy Boggie

  31. Americans have a long memory, just look at this Arab warrior.
    Mr. Big Stuff

  32. No, just what was reported to the Sheriff Deputy as to consumption both before the hunting accident and immediately there after.
    The report made via a Secret Serivce agent and the domestic staff of the ranch, as I recall.

    The comparison should be made as to contracting private ambulance companies around the US in preemptive support of Mr Cheney's possible medical needs and the support given to wounded citizen soldiers in recovery.

    That is all any elected offical is, a citizen.
    Equal before the Law.

    Perhaps, if his health is so poor, Mr Cheney should be replaced by a healthier man. There are, seemingly, many of those in the Country.

  33. This comment has been removed by the author.

  34. Never to be caught behind the information curve, there is this, just in:

    WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Doctors found a blood clot in Vice President Dick Cheney's left leg on Monday but he was not admitted to a hospital and will be treated with blood thinning medication, his office said.

    Cheney, who has a history of heart troubles, went to his doctor's office after he "experienced mild calf discomfort," his office said in a statement.

    "An ultrasound revealed a deep venous thrombosis (DVT) or 'blood clot' in his left lower leg," it said. "His doctors will treat him with blood thinning medication for several months. The vice president has returned to the White House to resume his schedule."

    All that time sitting on those planes, flying around Pakistan, Afghanistan, etc it takes its toll on an old out of shape dude's vascular circulation.

  35. Notice that Mr Cheney goes to George Washington University Medical Center, for his outpatient care.
    Avoiding Walter Reed.

    Well, the specialists ARE at GW.

    Mr Cheney was there, at GW, just last January, after suffering a period of shortness of breath. Now again in March for a blood clot in his leg.

    Let's hope the Docs can keep him patched together, at least for the duration.

  36. DR,

    I respectfully disagree with your characterization of the military today.

    We who serve in the military are not privatized; we are volunteers. We swear the same oaths that officers and enlisted swore prior to the end of the draft.

    I infer from the privatization comment a belief that there is less dedication, commitment in the ranks then at the time of the draft Army. I can tell you from my personal, anecdotal experience that this is not true.

    People come in for a variety of reasons, but there are still guys who, when under enemy fire, move from a covered and concealed position into harm's way to save their buddies. There are dirtbags who need to be bounced out, too, but there are plenty of the former, and they more than make up for the latter.

    Yes, people come in and stay in the military for a variety of reasons. For my part, I love my country and feel that I am giving a little bit back by being a part of the Green machine; also, I personally enjoy being a warrior, a soldier.

    I have only served in a volunteer military, so I have no means of comparing the alternative; however, I personally don't see what argument there would be for a draft in this day and age, unless there was an absolute critical shortfall in manpower (ie massive mobilization of the military a la WWII).

    I have written extensively on this subject over at my blog, check out the archives if it interests anyone.

    Also DR, in terms of some of your comments (and others) on the MED issue:
    we have several people who were injured in combat the last year to varying degrees who have been treated within the military medical system; I personally spoke to two of them at lunch today and they had no complaints.

    I am very satisfied with our hospital and with all variety of health care that my family and the soldiers in my unit have received over the years.

    The Walter Reed incident is indeed a tragedy, and heads are rolling because of it; the fact that a blogger like Ms. Malkin would make light of it is at best poor judgement and at worst political prejudice.

    But let's not extrapolate from this and say that the whole entire world is falling apart, and it's all bush's fault.

    The administration and the former SECDEF may be responsible for a good many problems, but there are an equal number of things that the services could have been doing over the years to be prepared for the environment they find themselves in now; however, instead of focusng on things like body armor, up-armored HMMVs, language training, et al, decisions were made to invest biillions in things like the comanche helicopter (canxd after billions spent) and the crusader self propelled artillery piece (ditto).

    Whatever blame that may rest on the administration for the planning and execution of this war, the leadership of the Army over the last decade bears some responsibility for ultimately not preparing to fight it; my guess is that the Walter Reed problems arose from totally poor leadership that were not held to account, until now.

  37. bob w.
    Privatized as in a self selected group, which the US Military now is. Privatized as in a closed management system, again self selecting.

    In WWII many civilians were brought in as senior officers, invigerating the system, not today.

    That is what I meant by Privatized.

  38. Like any exclusive privatized Club, by invitation only.

    A life long fraternity.

  39. bob w,

    Good post!

    You observed,
    "however, instead of focusng on things like body armor, up-armored HMMVs, language training, et al, decisions were made to invest biillions in things like the comanche helicopter (canxd after billions spent) and the crusader self propelled artillery piece (ditto)."

    I think you will find, unfortunately, this has not changed. Much of the additional funding being sought by the Army is slated to go to big ticket, frontier breaking weapons systems. For all the strum und drang, the Congress will not oppose the Army's priorities. Everybody loves pork.

    As I wrote at Blackfive, "This administration is not responsible for the sins of the world." However, it is responsible for getting caught with its pants down by a historically hostile media. There can be no excuses, as the Vice-President rightly said today.

    Deuce has observed the lack of resignations. DR sees this as the symptom of inbreeding, I think. Note, "Lt. Gen. Kevin C. Kiley, Army surgeon general and head of Walter Reed until 2004, apologized for what he called housing conditions that did 'not meet our standards.' He said renovations were under way." General Kiley did not tender his resignation, and no one seems to think he should, apparently. This may show the wisdom of both Deuce and DR.

    Tomorrow, I will drive over to base to get a script filled and (if I'm really good) get blood work done for my yearly physical. If all goes as usual, I will be completely satisfied. In fact, my complaints over the years have been fairly insignificant in comparison to what I am hearing in testimony. That said, there can be no question that some troops and their families have every reason to be dissatisfied. Why your experience and mine should be so different from these folk, I cannot say.

  40. Bob said to DR:

    But let's not extrapolate from this and say that the whole entire world is falling apart, and it's all bush's fault.

    Answer the multiple choice question below by circling one or more of the following potential answers:

    1) That's like telling DR to put a rag in it....

    2) That's the only "narrative" DR knows how to write...

    3) If it's not Bush's fault, he'll find someone else to blame...

    4) Maybe DR is really just a bot that someone coded to prove how many different topics could be responded to with the same meme.

  41. What was the rationale for doing away w/Warrant Officers?

  42. Bob W and I have had a debate about the present all volunteer service and the old draft system. Under that system, the Marine Corps (except for a short period in Viet Nam), the Air Force and the Navy were volunteers, maybe draft dodgers. All special units were volunteers. The army consisted those that had serial numbers that began with a "US" if they were draftees and "RA" if they were regular volunteers.

    It is unfair to refer to today's military as privatized and highly inaccurate. I prefer the draft system because it reinforces the concept of service. I think the officer corps would be better served with mandatory ROTC in every college and university. I would prefer to see some of bizzilionairs like Rush Limbaugh fund some universities to set up elite colleges of military and diplomatic science. I would like to see a draft system, where those that do not want to serve could buy their way out. It would be far more honest than the draft system that provided an escape route for a lot of the chicken hawks in this Administration, including the record holder Dick, duck-the-draft, Cheney.

  43. The problem, j, is systematic to the Federal government, that it is in great part, dysfunctional.

    That I maintain that storyline, well, it's because that's the story I keep seeing.

    It is beyond the scope of Mr Bushs' authority to remedy the problem.

    I do not often say much negative about Mr Bush, other than to quote him. If that's considered negative, well that's your perspective, j.

    Mr Cheney, on the other hand, well I do not cotton to mixing beer and guns, don't respect those that do.
    Especially after they shoot their buddy, proving their irresponsibility with regards the lives of others.

    But that is on a personal, not policy level. On Policy we've had, as Mr Bush said, what amounts to "slow failure". The Iraqi did not behave to script, for any number of reasons. Some foreseen, some not.

    Now I supported the ousting of Saddam, I find it interesting that nearly four years after "D-Day Iraq" that Mr Chalabi is back as a Player in the Iraqi Government. Despite the Powell/ Armitridge intriques.

    We are right where we were three years ago, Chalabis' "Baghdad Delux" redux.

  44. There certainly is a privatized element when you consider all the contractors who have been hired to 'support' the official 'military'.

  45. 800 of those contractors KIA so far, in Iraq.
    Makes up about 25% of Coalition KIA, so far.

  46. re: Mr. Cheney's health

    A clot to the brain, heart, or lungs would not disappoint Bill Maher. But that's not news. The real news is Ann Coulter's use of the "f" word.

    Good Lord! What has the world come to.

  47. By these standards, the hydrocarbon law is a great success. It:

    * Reaffirms that oil and gas resources are owned by all the people of Iraq and contains a firm commitment to revenue-sharing among regions and provinces on the basis of population.

    * Establishes a predictable framework and processes for federal-regional cooperation that demonstrate the government’s commitment to democracy and federalism.

    * Creates a principal policymaking body for energy – the Federal Council on Oil and Gas – that will have representatives from all of Iraq’s regions and oil-producing provinces.

    Iraq's Future

  48. Let me rephrase: Good Lord! What has the world come to, when some pip-squeak faggot can sit on national TV, with a current member and former member of the House of Representatives present, and remain unmolested after wishing the death of the Vice-President of the United States?

  49. "... While the Defense Department issues a press release whenever a soldier or Marine dies, the AP had to file a Freedom of Information Act request to obtain figures on pre-2006 civilian deaths and injuries from the Labor Department, which tracks workers' compensation claims.

    By the end of 2006, the Labor Department had quietly recorded 769 deaths and 3,367 injuries serious enough to require four or more days off the job. ..."

  50. A few responses to threads in this comment section:

    JWillie: I wasn't suggesting to stifle the debate in here; on the contrary, this is the best part of the blog, most times. I am glad that the horror stories that vets and soldiers have been subject to have been exposed and are out in the open; let's hope the various elements of the government take appropriate responses to fix them AND the system itself.

    Doug: FYI There are still plenty of warrant officers in the military. Most army pilots are warrants, maintenance and supply technicians are WOs and Special Forces relies heavily on the technical expertise and experience of their warrant officer corps.

    Deuce/DR: I like your idea about more universities having ROTC or officer programs, and the idea of grant money is a novel one. Which brings me back to DRs privatization comment:

    DR: You say that the Army/militrary is a closed system, thus privatized; in all actuality, the military's manner of creating and building it's leadership has not really changed since the end of the draft. In fact, one might even say it has moved more towards a meritocracy than ever before.

    Take the Army. Officers come from three tracks: West Point, ROTC, or Officer Candidate School.

    During the draft years of the Army, virtually every general was from USMA, as were high percentages of brigade and battalion commanders. Today that is no longer the case. One's alma mater matters little these days in terms of promotion and advancement.

    Perhaps the Army is still a closed system in that it has a tightly scripted manner in which it chooses and grooms its leadership; if so, however, it is less closed than iot was during the heady days of the draft.

    I believe the Army has made strides in removing the specter of careerism from its officer ranks in recent years as well; here are two examples:

    1. Officers from Lieutenant to Captain and Warrant Officer Ranks up to Chief Warrant Officer 2 no longer receive "blocks" on their officer evaluation reports (oer's); there is a section on the report form where an officer's senior rater would either mark "1" for above center of mass, or "2" for center of mass. Officers who received a 1 were considered the top performers, while those who received a 2 were considered average. The problem with doing this so early was twofold. FIrst of all, it inspired a culture of zero defects and competitiveness that was unhealthy; further, it reinforced a message to young officer that they were medoiocre. It is probably wise to tell a senior captain or major he/she is mediocre, but not a junior lieutenant. The 2LTs not acceptable for service should be drummed out , and the rest should have time to develop before the Army decides they are mediocre.

    2. The Army also did away with another careerist gate, Command and General Staff College, or CGSC. Up until 2003, only 50% of officers attended CGSC, and it was a near universal requirement for command and advancement; since '03, that requirement has ceased. Everyone now attends CGSOC, so it is no longer a discriminator.

    THese aforementioned actions (less prejudice from commissioning souce, OER system changes, and end of the CGSC requirement) have made the "Working Ranks" within the military much more competitive and merit-based; how well or poorly you do is based largely on job performance, and little else.

    Pretty fair, in my opinion.

  51. For those who think there is some reality to global warming, even a French scientist is calling bs on "global warming".

    from Canada's National Post

    His break with what he now sees as environmental cant on climate change came in September, in an article entitled "The Snows of Kilimanjaro" in l' Express, the French weekly. His article cited evidence that Antarctica is gaining ice and that Kilimanjaro's retreating snow caps, among other global-warming concerns, come from natural causes. "The cause of this climate change is unknown," he states matter of factly. There is no basis for saying, as most do, that the "science is settled."

    Dr. Allegre's skepticism is noteworthy in several respects. For one, he is an exalted member of France's political establishment, a friend of former Socialist president Lionel Jospin, and, from 1997 to 2000, his minister of education, research and technology, charged with improving the quality of government research through closer co-operation with France's educational institutions. For another, Dr. Allegre has the highest environmental credentials. The author of early environmental books, he fought successful battles to protect the ozone layer from CFCs and public health from lead pollution. His break with scientific dogma over global warming came at a personal cost: Colleagues in both the governmental and environmental spheres were aghast that he could publicly question the science behind climate change.

    And then, London's Daily Mail reports:

    The UN report by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change was published in February. At the time it was promoted as being backed by more than 2,000 of the world's leading scientists.

    But Professor Paul Reiter, of the Pasteur Institute in Paris, said it was a "sham" given that this list included the names of scientists who disagreed with its findings.

    Professor Reiter, an expert in malaria, said his name was removed from an assessment only when he threatened legal action against the panel.

    "That is how they make it seem that all the top scientists are agreed," he said. "It's not true."

    The same article goes on to say:

    Philip Stott, emeritus professor of biogeography at the School of Oriental and African Studies in London, said climate change is too complicated to be caused by just one factor, whether CO2 or clouds.

    He said: "The system is too complex to say exactly what the effect of cutting back on CO2 production would be or indeed of continuing to produce CO2.

    "It is ridiculous to see politicians arguing over whether they will allow the global temperature to rise by 2c or 3c."

    And finally, if you prefer video, there will be a documentary reporting views from these and many other scientists regarding THE GREAT GLOBAL WARMING SWINDLE.

    As one who has built or overseen the creation of very complex and sophisticated financial models, with ever increasing computer horsepower (like the one's ATT and BellSouth would have used to negotiate their merger), I know that these models don't even come close to representing reality. Furthermore, you can always distill the variability in model outputs to several key ASSUMPTIONS (rarely fewer than 3-4 or more than 8-10 per output analyzed).

    Financial models like these are created by some of the best financial minds on Wall Street and in corporate America. Now try to imagine having them do that for the entire US economy, and then for the world economy. Why do you think it's called the dismal science?

    What's that got to do with the weather? How do you think they come up with these "models" that predict global warming/cooling? Or a hot summer for 2006, or fewer tornadoes in 2007, or rain in Kentucky next week, or sunshine in Atlanta tomorrow? It's the exact same thing as the financial models - take some facts, mix it with some opinions about future facts (aka ASSUMPTIONS) and you got the same old garbage in, garbage out that computer forecasting has always delivered when it is applied to extremely complex and highly dynamic systems.

    Discrete, simple, short term financial or weather models (12 months or fewer) can be reasonably accurate. Complex, long term financial or weather models are useless tools for prediction, but both can be and are well used as tools to SELL and CON.

    H/T to Drudge for these links

  52. I did not mean to infer, bob w, that the military was not merit based or was some how unfair.

    Only that the military is an insular system, resistant to change. It is also becomes fractionalized and self serving as the Crusader gun story exemplified.

    Perhaps Channelized would be a better, more discriptive word, but then allen didn't use it, he used privatize. Should dance with the one that brought ya.

  53. What all this means is no secret. When Republicans stop feeling sorry for themselves, they can be effective.

    They can't get much of what they want. They're not on offense.

    But they are preventing Democrats from gutting the war effort in Iraq and from imposing on Americans a vast liberal program they didn't vote for. This is a worthy endeavor and Republicans are off to a good start.

    Just Say No

  54. j willie,

    Absolutely right on!!! Great stuff.

  55. DR,

    Allen used privatize sarcastically with specific reference to Ms. Malkin's absurdities. Think irony, or something.

  56. If true, this could provide a gold mine of information. Could this have anything to do with Senator Levin's about face on Iran and Syria?

    "One respected analyst with sources in the Iranian Revolutionary Guard says Gen. Ali Reza Asgari has defected and is now in a European country with his entire family, where he is cooperating with the U.S."

    Kidnapped or Defected? Top Iranian General Disappears


  57. rufus,

    Sorry for not saying so earlier, but I did read that link. Good stuff. The owners of property are not likely to wantonly destroy it.

  58. bobalharb,

    re: missing general

    Great minds, hey?

  59. bobalharb,

    It has long been my view that bin Laden is sleeping with the fishes, or some high altitude equivalent. But it would be my pleasure to see al Zawahri's head added to the den's wall. Now, do we put him between the Hussein lads, or next to Zarqawi? Decisions. Decisions.

  60. Treasury Secretary Henry M. Paulson Jr. says the economy is healthy, inflation seems under control and the U.S. should not perceive China as an economic enemy.

    Mr. Paulson, who this week makes his third visit to China as Treasury secretary, said in a television interview broadcast it is essential that both countries have strong economic ties. The former head of the investment company Goldman Sachs has said China is moving too slowly in overhauling its currency system and cracking down on copyright piracy.

    U.S. businesses blame these factors for the soaring U.S. trade deficit with China.

    China not an Enemy

  61. Allen, thanks for the chuckle. Bill Mawr really is a smarmy pip-squeak faggot.

  62. bobalharb,

    Truly exquisite thoughts, if such is the domain of thought. I will add the post to my "Quotations" file, with appropriate attribution, of course. Thanks.

  63. Deuce,

    re: "smarmy"

    That was just so uncalled for.


  64. In re: Ann Coulter; c/o Michelle Malkin

    “But as a point of clarification, let me make it clear that ACU and CPAC do not condone or endorse the use of hate speech,” said David A. Keene, ACU Chairman.”

    While Michelle may not have much to say about screwed up and screwed over veterans, she has plenty of space in her unresponsive blog to take on Ann Coulter’s exercise of the First Amendment.

    Hate Speech! Hey, Michelle, ACU, and CPAC, since when do actual, honest to goodness, true-blue, genuine “Conservatives” accept the proposition of “hate speech”?

    You spiteful little toads: “Thou shalt not lust…”

    All those books and bookings Coulter takes to the bank must really irritate a wanna be like Malkin.

  65. Greg Craig, a Washington super-lawyer with close ties to the Clintons, is supporting Sen. Barack Obama for president.


    While the other Republican presidential candidates were attending the annual Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) in Washington beginning Thursday, Sen. John McCain was launching a nationwide fund-raising campaign.


    Attorney General Alberto Gonzales has indicated he is too busy to answer letters from Democratic congressional leaders about his firing seven U.S. attorneys involved in probes of public corruption, though a lower-level Justice Department official rejected their proposals.


  66. Malkin is a Republican as are Bush, Giuliani, Romney, and McCain, i.e. RINOs all. Yeah, I know McCain strongly supports the “Surge”, but so does Lieberman, and no reputable person has called Lieberman a Republican.

    Now, I have no bone to pick with Malkin the RINO; but her conservative/Republican veneer is starting to wear thin. Additionally, I can respect folk who do not believe in the Divine endowment of the rights of American citizens; I just don’t think them either conservative or Republican. Indeed, Republicans used to call them Democrats.

  67. That's enough hate speech from me for one day. Nite all.

  68. Back again to clean up and claim the leftover beer the serious drunks left in their bottles - usually at least a couple of good swigs from each drunk's last beer!


    Catching up from a few days back, I'm glad you enjoyed the telephony/Internet stuff. It is truly a fascinating market study/experience for me. Same goes for the "high five" on global warming/NONSENSE links - thanks.

    Fell out of my chair laughing at the pipsqueak faggot comment about Maher. You couldn't get half a man out of him and Edwards put together. Difference between them is that Edwards is a natural born con man; Maher is just and only a hater.


    I was just stirrin' the pot. I agree with you about the bureaucracy. And bureaucracy will not be solved by either political party. I often wonder if there will not be a disruptive innovator (Wikipedia's summary/explanation of the concept is superb) on the political level. Osama's model is that in some regards, if you take Islam out of it. That's why it is so difficult for nation states to deal with it. Like DEC, Unisys, Burroughs & IBM trying to contend with Apple and Microsoft.

    Lights out for me. G'nite to anybody left standing.